SCOTTSDALE, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -- A Scottsdale police commander has filed a federal lawsuit against the Scottsdale Police Department, claiming civil rights and due process violations.
An attorney for Commander Aaron Minor says his client was fired after reporting Assistant Chief Richard Slavin for misconduct.
"We want to make sure that people in Scottsdale at the Department, at the city as a whole, are comfortable coming forward and speaking out if they see things that concern them," says Arizona Conference of Police and Sheriffs (AZCOPS) lawyer Steven Serbalik.
"For Commander Minor, it's really important for him -- and everyone else that comes to work for Scottsdale -- to be respected.
During his 22 years with the Scottsdale Police Department, Minor rose through the ranks to become the Department's first and only black commander, according to Serbalik.
"He's a role model for the citizens of Scottsdale and for all of us," Serbalik said.
The federal suit focuses on a meeting that reportedly happened on May 9, 2019, in which Slavin allegedly was heard making homophobic comments. According to the complaint, Slavin was talking about a recent training when he said the "French police supervisor" was "probably gay." Later in the meeting, according to the suit, Slavin turned to a lieutenant in the room and asked them, "Are you gay?"
The complaint says Minor reported the comments to leadership and was interviewed as part of the internal investigation. The suit says, on Oct. 1, Minor was informed that Chief Alan Rodbell had ordered an internal investigation into Minor because he "did not respond with integrity" when asked about the May 9 meeting.
According to the lawsuit, Minor was called into Rodbell's office on Oct. 21 and handed his dismissal letter. Arizona's Family has obtained that letter, which says, "We have lost trust and confidence in your ability to fulfill the duties and expectations of this position." The letter also noted that Minor does "not have the right to appeal."
Minor's lawsuit was filed the next day.
One day later -- on Oct. 23 -- the Scottsdale Police Department told Arizona's Family that Minor is on paid leave. The Department would not say why or comment on the pending litigation.
Serbalik says his client only wants his job back for good.
"Commander Minor's highest honor in his life is to be a police officer and to serve his community," the lawyer said.
He also said that Minor is not seeking payment for damages, although that might change depending on how talks with City of Scottsdale officials unfold. Serbalik says since filing the lawsuit, the City appears more willing to work things out.