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Ex-Idaho cop tied to white supremacy alleges discrimination

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — A retired longtime police captain whose ties to a white supremacist group have prompted an in-depth investigation of potential racism at the Boise Police Department filed a discrimination complaint against the city in November.

Matthew Bryngelson, who oversaw the patrol division and retired in August, alleges age and disability discrimination in a complaint filed with Idaho’s Human Rights Commission and the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the Idaho Statesman reported.

The complaint was filed Nov. 8, less than two weeks before Bryngelson’s racist ties became public. An attorney who filed the complaint, J. Grady Hepworth, told the newspaper his firm no longer represents Bryngelson and declined to comment further. Bryngelson couldn’t be reached for comment by the newspaper.

Hepworth Law Offices has represented other Boise police employees with grievances against the department and the city, including Jesus Jara, the Office of Police Accountability director who was put on administrative leave on Dec. 2, and retired captain Tom Fleming, who filed a whistleblower lawsuit against the city in November as well as alleging age and disability discrimination.

The Bryngelson complaint alleges he had been “diagnosed with severe depression and anxiety,” and that in September 2021 he became “despondent and suicidal as a result of the harassment and workplace hostility from Chief Ryan Lee.”

Lee resigned at Mayor Lauren McLean’s request this September, after complaints from a number of officers, including Bryngelson, became public.

The Statesman reported in November that Bryngelson appeared under a fake name on the speaker list for the American Renaissance Conference. The Southern Poverty Law Center says the conference draws Klansmen, neo-Nazis and other white supremacists.

On Tuesday, the Boise City Council approved a contract with attorney Michael Bromwich to lead an investigation into Bryngelson’s tenure at the Police Department and to examine whether racism permeates through the department.

Lee is not a named party in either complaint and couldn't be reached for comment by the newspaper.

In November, Fleming filed a whistleblower lawsuit against Boise, alleging discrimination and retaliation by Lee for Fleming’s investigations of officer misconduct as the captain of the Professional Standards Division. The Human Rights Commission claim, which was also filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, accused Lee of harassing him after he returned from knee surgery and pressured him to retire.

Fleming's case involving both the lawsuit and complaint is pending in Ada County District Court with a trial scheduled for June 2024, according to his lawyer.

A Boise City Hall spokesperson, Maria Weeg, declined to comment on the pending legal matters.

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Associated Press

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