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Thursday, June 12, 2003 02:20 pm

Harris’s legacy

A federal judge has denied the City of Springfield's motion to dismiss the race discrimination lawsuit filed by Renatta Frazier, Rickey Davis, and other current and former black Springfield Police officers.

In an order published Tuesday, Judge Jeanne E. Scott let stand most of the claims contained in the complaint. She dismissed former Mayor Karen Hasara, individually, from the lawsuit, and dismissed claims filed by Larry Stelivan, who is retired, and Robert Williams, now assistant chief over internal affairs. She also dismissed all claims against city employees in their official capacities, saying those are covered in the claim against the city. She did not dismiss claims against the defendants as individuals.

Those individuals are: Springfield Police Chief John Harris, Assistant Chief Bill Pittman, retired assistant chief Mitzi Vasconcelles, retired lieutenant Mark Harms, and former police legal adviser William Workman. All these defendants, except Pittman, have recently resigned or retired at the request of either former mayor Hasara or current mayor Tim Davlin.

Under the judge's order, Renatta Frazier can proceed against the City of Springfield on her complaints of disparate treatment and a hostile work environment; against the individual defendants on her claims of hostile work environment, conspiracy to deprive her of her rights, and intentional infliction of emotional distress; and against Harris on her claim that he portrayed her in a false light.

Rickey Davis can proceed against the city and Harris on his claims of disparate treatment and retaliation.

Other officers can proceed on claims against the city. Officer Don Ewing and Lieutenant Lea Joy can proceed on claims against the city and against Chief Harris.

Frazier says she celebrated Tuesday night by having ice cream. Even her youngest child, five-year-old Shug, understood that the judge's ruling represented a small victory.

"This has been long ordeal for the entire family and an extremely stressful time," Frazier says. "We just all kind of celebrated together and we're definitely looking forward to the next step."

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