Two former Anchorage police officers have won a long-running lawsuit against the city. A jury awarded Alvin Kennedy and Eliezer Feliciano nearly a million dollars apiece after they argued they were victims of racial discrimination by the department.
Kennedy, who is black, and Feliciano, who is Hispanic, worked as undercover detectives. Both were employed by APD for 20 years. The men claimed discrimination after they were removed from a drug task force — known as the Metro Unit — that commanding officers said had too many minorities, according to their lawyer.
In 2010, the pair filed a lawsuit against the department.
Attorney Ken Legacki, who represents the men, said APD retaliated against the former officers by trying to make a criminal case against them, even going to the FBI to initiate an investigation in an effort to show they were “bad cops.” But Legacki said his clients were cleared in every case. Legacki said then-police chief Mark Mew knew that when the case first went to trial in 2014, but Mew didn’t share that information with the court.
“They were told that they couldn’t discuss them because they were ongoing investigations,” Legacki said about the trial. “When, in fact, they knew that they were over and they were not going to be prosecuted. But they still misled the court and the jury, that they were ongoing investigations when they were not.”
That case resulted in a hung jury, but a different jury on Tuesday reached a different conclusion. It found the men were victims of a hostile work environment and that the department had illegally retaliated against them.
Kennedy was awarded a total of $845,676 in damages and Feliciano was awarded $941,536 in damages.
Municipal attorney Bill Falsey said Wednesday that the city is considering appealing the verdict but still had some time to decide.
There’s substantial money involved. In addition to the damage award, court documents show the city has paid the law firm of Clapp, Peterson, Tiemessen, Thorsness and Johnson more than a million dollars to fight the lawsuit since it was filed. Falsey said if the decision stands, there’s a good chance Anchorage property owners will see their tax rates rise to help cover the bill.