Officer Sues South Windsor Police, Claims Discrimination

Jesse Leavenworth, Hartford (Connecticut) Courant, July 21, 2009

A black police officer has sued the town, contending she was discriminated against because of her race and gender.

Officer Nicole Little says police supervisors and other officers belittled and harassed her, causing her hypertension, severe emotional distress, anxiety and loss of sleep, according to the suit filed recently in Superior Court in Hartford.

Little, 37, who was hired in 2004, is the first and only African American to become a sworn police officer in South Windsor. As an outsider, she became a target, according to the suit, which includes these claims:

At a firing range in 2004, Sgt. Peter Alix told Little, “Chief [Gary Tyler] always says anyone is welcome to leave. This isn’t a plantation,” the suit states.

In 2005, Alix told Little that she “needed to put the angry black woman away,” the suit states.

Commander Matthew Reed told Little in 2006 that her probationary status was extended because she had “reportedly engaged in nonverbal behavior such as rolling her eyes and sucking her teeth,” the suit states.

“Upon information and belief, these said nonverbal behaviors are typically associated with an ‘angry black woman,'” the suit states.

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Other officers shunned Little, throwing away their meals and leaving a break room when she entered and not accompanying her when she was rushed to an area hospital after having chest pains on duty. Police supervisors, according to the suit, told officers that associating with Little was “career suicide.”

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Little is seeking damages of “more than $15,000,” a standard request in such lawsuits. Her lawyer, Patrick Tomasiewicz of Hartford-based Fazzano, Tomasiewicz & Barall, said Little continues to work for the department, but he did not want to make any other comment.

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