Alleged corruption and offensive racial behavior within the South Fulton Police Department has led to a whistleblower lawsuit by two former employees, one-time homicide detective Joseph King and human resources director Tanesha Graham.
The legal action filed Tuesday by attorneys Arnold Lizanna and Artur Davis alleges a “retaliatory hostile environment” and follows federal discrimination complaints filed in October.
The lawsuit states that King witnessed corruption carried out by his former Lieutenant Shannon McKesey, including tampering with funds from arrests, and was retaliated against when he reported the actions to human resources in 2021. It adds that Graham was subsequently retaliated against by Police Chief Keith Meadows, and a councilmember who attempted to have her fired.
The complaint says that both Graham and King, who are Black, are protected under the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the Georgia Whistleblower Act, which protects public employees against retaliation for reporting a violation of law, regulation or rule.
Tuesday afternoon, South Fulton spokeswoman Jacqueline Howell provided a statement saying a previous independent investigation conducted by a law firm specializing in employment discrimination, “did not substantiate allegations of city policy or state law violations.”
The statement added that there would be no further comment due to the pending litigation.
“(South Fulton) will be formally served within the next week and will have 21 days to answer or file a motion to dismiss,” Davis said via email.
The civil action states that retaliation against King includes being accused of submitting a fake COVID vaccination card. His valid vaccination status was confirmed through the Georgia Department of Public Health, the lawsuit says.
The complaint also states Meadows and others under the chief’s command have tried to get King fired from his current position as an investigator with the Fulton County District Attorney’s Office.
The lawsuit says that King, who was Fulton County Detective of the Year in 2022, and other detectives observed McKesey’s use of the N-word, bullying of subordinates as well as consumption of “alcohol on duty, use of city funds to pay undercover officers to purchase alcohol (for her) … fraternization … and tampering with funds collected during drug arrests and execution of search warrants ...”
McKesey resigned last summer when Smyrna Police completed an independent investigation for South Fulton and found complaints to be true, in addition to labor act violations and violations of city and police policy.
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