LONOKE — Former Lonoke Chief of Ppolice Patrick Mulligan has filed a lawsuit in Pulaski County against the city of Lonoke.
Mulligan alleges in the suit he was fired in December because he opposed racial discrimination in city government. He is suing for punitive damages exceeding $500,000, reinstatement to his former job or front pay, attorney’s fees and court costs.
Mulligan, who is represented by Luther Sutter of the Benton firm Sutter & Gillham, filed the suit Feb. 17 in Pulaski County Circuit Court. Hot Springs attorney C. Burt Newell filed a response denying Mulligan’s claims on behalf of the city April 25.
Mulligan never moved to Lonoke, the county seat of Lonoke County, and still lives in neighboring Pulaski County, where he formerly was a sheriff’s deputy and unsuccessfully ran for sheriff.
Lonoke Mayor Wayne McGee said Tuesday he fired Mulligan, who then asked if he could resign, although the city never received a letter of resignation from Mulligan.
McGee said he has not fully read Mulligan’s claims but has been questioned by City Attorney Ginger Stuart and Newell on the case. McGee said while he does not foresee the suit going to court, the city has no plans to settle the case.
“There’s nothing to settle on,” McGee said. “I don’t know what there is to sue for. People will try to do anything these days.”
In the nine-page suit, Mulligan claims that on numerous occasions he witnessed racially discriminatory acts and derogatory comments by McGee, other city officials and city employees.
These occurred, Mulligan said, at the police department and at McGee’s office at City Hall.
According to the suit, Mulligan met with McGee and Water Department Manager Jim Kelly in the conference room at City Hall on Dec. 21. McGee told Mulligan his last day would be Dec. 29 and that he was being let go because the City Council wanted to go in a different direction and McGee was tired of issues with the department, the suit states.
Mulligan also claims that he was questioned by McGee for paying a newly hired black part-time officer $12 per hour, but not the white part-time officers; that he was fired less than two weeks following the start of an internal investigation of a black officer being subjected to a hostile work environment or illegal discrimination; and that after issuing Lonoke Alderman Efrem Jones a police car as a reserve non-paid officer to help with the backlog of warrants and to transport prisoners, he was questioned about giving Jones a vehicle and told to get the car back.
Mulligan further claims that McGee and some aldermen disapproved of Mulligan starting a Chief’s Council comprised of several young black males from Lonoke who have experienced issues with the police department. He also claims he opposed white establishments not being subjected to equal scrutiny when the mayor ordered police to go to the Mariachi Grill and collect late, unpaid taxes.
The suit also alleges wasted or misuse of department funds, illegal or unethical secret meetings of McGee and some of the city aldermen, and requests by city officials for alteration of a traffic ticket and the release of a friend arrested on suspicion of driving while intoxicated.