Cobb County Sheriff Neil Warren waits to greet Gov. Brian Kemp during the 30th annual Cobb Sheriff’s Corn Boilin’ at Jim Miller Park in Marietta on July 15, 2019. CHRISTINA MATACOTTA/CHRISTINA.MATACOTTA@AJC.COM
Photo: Christina R. Matacotta
Photo: Christina R. Matacotta

Employee files race discrimination suit against Cobb Sheriff’s Office

A black employee of the Cobb County Sheriff’s Office has filed a racial discrimination suit against the department alleging that he has been disciplined more harshly than his white colleagues.

The suit, filed in federal court last week, was brought by Chester Coachman, Jr. Coachman was hired in 2008 and demoted from deputy sheriff to a criminal justice specialist in August, 2017, according to his personnel file.

His demotion followed his arrest in Florida for allegedly threatening the brother of his daughter’s boyfriend with a gun. According to the lawsuit, the case was dismissed in March, 2018, and his certification as law enforcement was restored by the Georgia Peace Officer Standards and Training Council in February 2019.

According to Coachman’s POST file, his certification is probationary and he is required to complete an anger management course and an ethics course.

“While awaiting a decision to be re-instated back to a sworn deputy, Defendant assigned Mr. Coachman to work details that no similarly situated Deputy have had to perform, including cleaning showers, trash, dirty laundry and jail cells smeared in feces and old food without proper materials or equipment,” the filing reads. “Rather than reinstate Mr. Coachman to a sworn deputy position like it had done to similarly-situated Caucasian officers following their P.O.S.T. recertification, Defendant continued to assign Mr. Coachman to less desirable work including detail picking up dirty trays and dirty laundry.”

Sheriff Neil Warren has refused to reinstate Coachman since, the lawsuit says. It does not detail the sheriff’s stated reasons, but calls them “false” and a “pretext for race discrimination.”

Coachman referred questions to his attorney, who did not respond to messages left at his office. The Sheriff’s Office did not respond to a request for comment. A spokesperson for the county attorney said that office could not comment.

In April of this year, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution filed an open-records request with the Sheriff’s Office for the personnel and internal affairs files for more than two dozen employees, including Coachman.

The Sheriff’s Office withheld Coachman’s internal affairs file because it was “still open.”

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