Posted on February 13, 2009

Probie Wife’s Explosive Charge: ‘Racist’ FDNY Killed My Husband; Training Targeted Minorities

Larry McShane, New York Daily News, February 12, 2009

A probationary firefighter who died at a training session was the victim of an FDNY effort to keep blacks out of the department, a lawyer for his widow charged Thursday.

Jamel Sears, who collapsed Nov. 10 at the Fire Academy, died after he was subjected to a more strenuous physical regimen than FDNY hopefuls–most of them white–had undergone in the past, lawyer Ken Thompson said.

Sears’ widow, Sherita, filed a notice of claim Feb. 6 informing the city and the FDNY she plans to bring a $10 million wrongful death suit.

“This was the largest class of blacks and Latinos in Fire Department history,” Thompson said. “Why did the department decide for the first time to implement this particular training?

“We’re saying we believe there was a racial motivation there.”


In addition to the racial component, the Sears filing claimed an FDNY instructor ordered other trainees not to help Sears as he died before their eyes. It took EMS more than 15 minutes to reach the Fire Academy on Randalls Island, the court papers said.


[Sears’s] wife is a city police officer. {snip}