Black Ohio police officer whose white chief put KKK note on his coat breaks his silence

After surveillance video exhibiting a white Ohio police chief leaving a “Ku Klux Klan” word on a Black officer’s raincoat made nationwide information, the id of the officer remained a thriller.

Sheffield Lake, Ohio, Police Officer Keith Pool. Courtesy Peiffer Wolf Carr Kane & Conway

On Thursday, Sheffield Lake Police Officer Keith Pool got here ahead to element the incident in June that resulted in his former boss’s ouster and to allege different encounters that he described as “demeaning.”

The video, obtained over the summer season by NBC affiliate WKYC of Cleveland, captured then-Police Chief Anthony Campo standing on the division’s copier and inserting the Klan printout on the coat. The KKK was a secretive society organized within the South after the Civil Warfare to say white supremacy, typically utilizing violence.

Pool stated in an interview this week that when he returned to his desk, Campo instructed different officers — all of whom had been white — to return see the signal.

“It was not humorous to them,” stated Pool, 57. “They walked away from it.” 

However Campo didn’t cease there, in keeping with Pool and his attorneys, who introduced authorized motion Thursday.

Pool alleged that Campo original a KKK-style hat out of paper and instructed him he needed to put on it on his subsequent name.

“It was so demeaning. It was so disrespectful to me,” he stated. 

Former Sheffield Lake, Ohio, Police Chief Anthony Campo put a photograph of Officer Keith Pool’s face on the Grim Reaper. “The raccoon reaper,” Campo wrote on the picture.Courtesy Peiffer Wolf Carr Kane & Conway

Pool had deliberate to report the incident, which he knew had been recorded on workplace surveillance video, however a union consultant beat him to it. 

He stated that he was the primary Black officer to work on the company, which has about 14 officers, and that he had been repeatedly focused by Campo in his lower than a yr on the division.

“There was no African Individuals making use of there,” Pool stated.

The primary incident occurred earlier than he even began work final yr. 

As an alternative of sending Pool an image of his new patrol automobile, Campo despatched him a photograph of a car on 20-inch rims with tinted home windows, Pool stated. 

“It stated ‘Officer Pool, SRO,’” stated Pool, who has been a police officer for 19 years and was beforehand a college useful resource officer.

He added: “It threw me. What’s he speaking about? What is that this about?” Even so, Pool joined the division. 

Round Halloween, he stated, Campo focused him once more, pinning a photograph of the Grim Reaper on the bulletin board. Pool’s face was inserted into the image, which learn beneath, “The raccoon reaper.”

“I didn’t perceive that, both,” he stated. 

Pool alleged that after a second Black officer joined the division, the 2 had been sitting in a patrol automobile when Campo approached them with one more “tinted window” comment.

“‘It appeared like y’all’s home windows are tinted,’” Pool quoted Campo as saying. “The home windows had been open.”

Pool added that Campo had an obsession with pulling over drivers with tinted home windows. The follow has been criticized as a approach to unfairly goal folks for “driving whereas Black.”

Campo additionally had a historical past of discriminating in opposition to different folks within the workplace based mostly on their gender, sexual orientation and race, stated Ashlie Case Sletvold, considered one of Pool’s attorneys.

Pool’s authorized workforce filed a discrimination cost with the Ohio Civil Rights Fee, an preliminary step in preparation to file a lawsuit. Attorneys additionally filed a petition with the state Supreme Court docket to compel the police division to offer data that they are saying will display a sample of race-based harassment involving Campo.

“Lots of people knew about him,” Pool stated. “Nothing was accomplished.”

Efforts to succeed in Campo for remark in July and this week had been unsuccessful.

In an interview with WKYC, he beforehand stated that the KKK signal was meant as an off-color joke and that it had been “overblown.” He added that he revered Pool, a characterization Pool disputed.

Pool stated he had first been courted by the mayor in 2019 and accused Campo of blocking him from working there.

“He instructed a detective, ‘Completely not,’” he stated. “He didn’t need me over there within the first place.”

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