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Sheriff’s office denies discrimination claims in lawsuit

July 31, 2019

WASHINGTON, N.C. (AP) — A lawsuit claiming that a supervisor used a slur against a biracial deputy and pointed a gun at his head should be dismissed because the plaintiff made false allegations and defamatory statements, a North Carolina sheriff’s office says.

Beaufort Sheriff Ernie Coleman and four others were sued by Dominic Franks, who claimed in his lawsuit that supervisor William Ragland pointed his loaded service weapon at his head, called him a slur and “monkey boy,” and made fun of his hair. Franks said the behavior continued despite his complaints up the chain of command, and he was unfairly disciplined, leading to his resignation.

In the response filed Tuesday, Christopher Geis, an attorney for the sheriff’s office, denied Franks’ allegations and said there is no evidence any of the events he described in his lawsuit occurred. Franks was fired for “bizarre and unstable behavior, and fabricated allegations” and engaged in “possibly criminal behavior in retaliation against former colleagues,” according to the response.

Specifically, the sheriff’s office says Franks impersonated the identities of three Beaufort County sheriff’s deputies with whom he had had altercations while employed and subscribed their work emails to websites for pornography, substance abuse addiction and adulterous affairs. Also, the sheriff’s office said Franks ordered a dump truck filled with sand to be delivered to the home of one of the deputies.

Franks joined another law enforcement agency, but was soon asked to resign for unprofessional behavior, the response said.

The sheriff’s office asks that the court reject Franks’ request for compensatory damages and that he pay for attorney’s fees and other costs incurred in the defense.

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