City, Andoh settle police racism suit
October 28, 2011
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. – South Lake Tahoe has agreed to pay the South Shore’s former transit administrator $5,000 to resolve a federal civil rights suit that alleged racism within the police department.
In August 2010, former South Tahoe Transit Authority Administrator John Andoh filed suit against the city, the police department, Officer Russell Liles and unnamed defendants, contending each conspired to deny him his civil rights.
Jeffrey Fulton, Andoh’s attorney, said police arrested Andoh, who is black, in October 2009 because of a relationship he had with STATA administrative assistant Allyson Ritchie.
“During the relationship, Ms. Ritchie advised (Andoh) that she had a brother who was a police officer for the city of South Lake Tahoe, and that this individual would become enraged should he discover that Ms. Ritchie was involved in an interracial relationship,” Fulton wrote in the suit. Ritchie is the sister of police officer Andrew Eissinger.
Fulton also contended police falsified information in their report detailing Andoh’s arrest, have a de facto policy of racial profiling and inadequately investigate complaints of misconduct.
Police said Andoh was arrested after he changed his story about whether a Jeep Wrangler he was driving made contact with a 58-year-old bicyclist during a Sept. 4, 2009 incident at the corner of C Street and Emerald Bay Road. Andoh said he gave consistent statements about the incident.
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Police arrested Andoh Oct. 1 after a warrant was issued for his arrest on a misdemeanor charge of allegedly giving misleading information. Prosecutors dropped the charge in February 2010.
South Lake Tahoe officials have previously denied misconduct by the police department and Patrick Enright said the settlement does not mean the city did anything wrong.
Neither Andoh or the city acknowledged culpability in the settlement.
“The City is not admitting any misconduct by the police department,” Enright said in a Friday email. “The reason we settled is because it was going to cost the City in excess of $5,000 to file a Motion for Summary Judgment, which does not account for the cost if we had to actually go to trial. Andoh was initially demanding a much higher payment, but we decided to settle for a fairly nominal amount to stop incurring legal and court costs in the case.”
Andoh and Fulton did not return requests for comment Friday.
The settlement was signed last month. The city sent Andoh a check was sent earlier this month, Enright said. The case was closed Oct. 21, according to online court documents.