Latino officer files discrimination complaint against ex-police chief

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A second Sheffield Lake police officer has filed a discrimination complaint with the Ohio Civil Rights Commission against former police chief Anthony Campo.

AJ Torres, the only Latino officer in the police department, spoke publicly about the racial and religious harassment he allegedly suffered for the first time Tuesday at a press conference.

Last fall, Keith Pool — the department’s only black officer at the time — filed a discrimination complaint over a videotaped incident that showed Campo placing a “Ku Klux Klan” sign on Pool’s jacket and then wearing a makeshift KKK hat. Pool also spoke at the conference.

In his charge, Torres alleged that Campo made fun of his Latino heritage and his Catholic faith, including his observance of the Sabbath and Lent.

Torres also wrote that Campo posted offensive images of him on the police department’s bulletin board, such as a photoshopped image of Torres on a pot of salsa with a sombrero and Torres’ face superimposed on a priest’s body.

Officer AJ Torres has worked part-time as a Sheffield Lake officer since retiring in 2013 from Ohio State Highway Patrol service.

Courtesy: Peiffer Wolf Carr Kane & Conway

Campo also reportedly posted a photo from one of Torres’ annual mission trips to El Salvador, in which he is pictured with two children, and added a speech bubble implying that Torres is a pedophile, in reference to the sex abuse scandal of Catholic Church.

When Campo’s alleged mistreatment of Torres began, Torres said he tried to keep his head down and “remain silent”.

“I would try to have faith, to calm down,” Torres told the conference. “But the icing on the cake was when Pool’s situation came up, and I said, ‘He’s not alone.’ I had to move on.”

Following the release of the KKK video, Campo retired in June 2021 after 32 years in the department and eight years as chief. Campo could not be reached for comment by ABC News.

At the time, Sheffield Lake Mayor Dennis Bring called the incident “the most egregious and offensive thing you can do”.

PHOTO: Sheffield Lake City Hall in Sheffield Lake, Ohio.

Sheffield Lake City Hall in Sheffield Lake, Ohio.

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However, in the Pool and Torres cases, the city denied that Campo’s conduct was “severe or widespread”, calling it a mere “joke”, according to Ashlie Case Sletvold – partner at Peiffer Wolf, the law firm representing Torres and Pool. .

“I don’t put aside my ethnicity and heritage when I come to work, nor should I have to hide my religion,” Torres said. “My faith and my humanitarian work on my own time makes me a better policeman. I’m disappointed that the city I serve doesn’t take what former Chief Campo did to me more seriously.

Bring and Sheffield Lake’s chief legal officer, David Graves, did not respond to ABC News’ requests for comment.

In addition to the complaints filed by Pool and Torres, the Ohio Civil Rights Commission is currently investigating a third charge against Campo alleging sexual harassment.

Pool also filed a petition in the Ohio Supreme Court last July to force the department to produce public documents, including images that Campo created and posted mocking employees based on race, sex, religion and sexual orientation.

The city has yet to provide the records, Sletvold told the conference.

The police department has yet to mandate diversity training for its employees and has rejected offers for people to come and provide such training for free, Sletvold said.

The Sheffield Lake Police Department declined to comment to ABC News.

“There is no change,” Pool said. “We haven’t moved forward as a department to make sure this doesn’t happen again.”


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