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‘Lost enjoyment of life’: Lieutenant Colonel sues county, alleges he was passed over for police chief because of race

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    ST. LOUIS COUNTY, MO (KMOV) — A St. Louis County police lieutenant colonel is suing the department, alleging he was passed over for promotion to Police Chief because of his race.

Troy Doyle, a member of the St. Louis County Police Department since 1992, alleges in a lawsuit filed Wednesday that despite being County Executive Sam Page’s choice to become the new police chief, he was not chosen because political factors influenced the Board of Police Commissioners’ decision.

According to the suit, Doyle spoke with Page at the latter’s home, where Page told him he wanted him to be the next police chief. The suit states that Page said Doyle was “the right person for the job” and that hiring him was “the right thing to do.”

However, the suit alleges that despite Page’s endorsement and his encouragement that he would “pull this across the finish line,” Doyle was overlooked for political reasons.

“In January 2020, Page informed Plaintiff that Chief Belmar would be leaving his position within the next couple months and told Plaintiff to be prepared,” the lawsuit reads. “In late January 2020, Page told Plaintiff that he was getting “push back” regarding the appointment of an African American Chief of Police and that he was now having difficulty ‘pushing this across the finish line.'”

The lawsuit also states that Page was “shocked” at what two members of The St. Louis Police Foundation said, and says the county executive “would have thought he was living in the 60s.”

In 2020, the board loosened the requirements for who could apply for the position of police chief, opening it to any officer who held the rank of captain or above. Previously, applicants would not be accepted unless they held a rank of lieutenant colonel or higher, which was Doyle’s rank in 2020. He previously was not allowed to apply for police chief because he did not have the requisite rank.

On March 19, 2020, the board announced Mary Barton, who was a captain, had been selected as the new chief of police.

Doyle’s lawsuit claims he had one interview with the board, which lasted around 20 minutes. It also asserts Doyle “was more qualified, and continues to be more qualified, than Barton for the Chief of Police position.”

Further, the suit says, “Page and/or individual members of the St. Louis Police Foundation and/or individual members of Civic Progress exerted influence on the Board and/or some of its members to oppose Plaintiff’s appointment to the Chief of Police position and to advocate for the selection of a white person. Plaintiff’s race was the motivating factor in the decision to exert this influence.”

The lawsuit doesn’t specify what Doyle is seeking in terms of finances, but it does say he has, and will continue to, sustain lost wages because of the board’s decision, and he has suffered “emotional distress, humiliation, embarrassment, mental anguish and suffering, and lost of enjoyment of life.”

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