ST. LOUIS • A white St. Louis police sergeant awarded about $800,000 over racial discrimination sued the department again Friday, alleging retaliation for the his legal victory.
Sgt. David Bonenberger has been with the department for more than 22 years. He sued in 2012, claiming that a position he sought, as assistant director of the police academy, was instead awarded to a black woman he claimed was less qualified.
In 2013, a jury in U.S. District Court in St. Louis awarded Bonenberger $200,000 in actual damages and $420,000 in punitive damages. The punitive damages figure included $100,000 against Lt. Michael Muxo, $300,000 against Lt. Col. Reggie Harris and $20,000 against then-Chief Dan Isom.
Friday’s lawsuit claims that two days after the award of $172,000 in attorney’s fees to Bonenberger, current Chief Sam Dotson ordered that an internal affairs investigation into the discrimination be closed.
A city spokeswoman declined to comment, saying the city had yet to be served with the suit.
In May 2014, Bonenberger was assigned to a position that would put him in regular contact with Muxo, and in which he would occasionally have to report to Muxo, the suit says.
Bonenberg was reassigned after complaining, but to a position that reduced his supervisory duties and then to an assignment that forced him to reschedule vacations, the suit says.
Bonenberger’s lawyer, Lynette Petruska, said that milestones in the case also were marked by actions against Bonenberger.
“Why would you be so petty? And why would you do these things when things are happening in the case, so it becomes easier to connect … up?” she asked.
The lawsuit claims that police officials retaliated against him for suing the first time, violated his right to speak out about the discrimination and violated his right to sue. The suit seeks unspecified compensatory and punitive damages.