Suffolk detective sues department over alleged racial discrimination
A Suffolk County police detective filed a lawsuit accusing the department of racial discrimination.
Detective Sgt. Tulio Serrata has been with the Suffolk Police Department for more than 20 years. Serrata says he's applied for five promotions and more favorable transfers over the years but has been denied. He says the promotions instead went to Caucasian members who have less experience.
"I applied for two positions in homicide where I previously worked for five years," says Serrata. "I had a successful tenure at homicide, highly respected. I applied for narcotics, and again I was passed over by individuals less qualified than I was."
The lawsuit, filed in federal court, accuses the department of racial discrimination and retaliation by members of the department.
Serrata says the discrimination turned into retaliation in 2019 after he testified before the Suffolk Legislature. Lawmakers were looking into claims of nepotism after a high-paying position in the Suffolk District Attorney's office went to the nephew of then-Suffolk Chief of Detectives Gerard Gigante.
Serrata's attorney Fred Brewington says, "He's done with being mistreated. He's done with the impact of having to take second-class citizenship when indeed he is a first-class individual."
Brewington says the Suffolk Police Department's treatment of Serrata is a violation of two previous agreements it made with federal monitors.
"We're asking the U.S. Justice Department to come and throw the book at Suffolk County for violating the promise they made in 1986 and the promise they made in 2014," he says.
Serrata is seeking up to $35 million in damages.
The Suffolk Police Department doesn't comment on pending litigation.