Judge dismisses discrimination lawsuit against Lakewood

A discrimination lawsuit brought against the City of Lakewood by a former police officer has been dismissed without a trial.

Pierce County Superior Court Judge Stanley Rumbaugh ruled for the city earlier this month in the lawsuit filed by Victor Celis, who alleged he was forced out of his job by the police department because he is Latino.

City attorneys successfully argued in a motion for summary judgment that Celis faced discipline up to termination in 2010 because of his drunken behavior in Leavenworth earlier that year.

Race had nothing to do with it, the city’s attorneys argued.

“Plaintiff’s misconduct during the Leavenworth incident brought great discredit upon the Lakewood Police Department and was a legitimate, non-discriminatory reason to recommend his termination,” according to a city pleading.

“Plaintiff knew he was facing serious discipline, with a possibility of termination, so he made a calculated decision to save his law enforcement career by resigning before he could be disciplined or terminated.”

Celis now works for the Ruston police force.

He resigned from Lakewood after six years following an incident at Leavenworth’s Oktoberfest.

He was determined to have acted belligerently, shouted at his wife in public and, to avoid getting into trouble, flashed his badge at Chelan County sheriff’s deputies sent to investigate, court records show.

He avoided criminal prosecution but was subject to an internal investigation, which found he had violated several police department policies.

Celis admitted he engaged in boorish behavior but argued white officers in the Lakewood Police Department received suspensions or other lesser penalties than termination for equally egregious misconduct.

Rumbaugh disagreed and dismissed the lawsuit with prejudice, meaning Celis cannot refile the claim in state court.

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