A former deputy whose certification was revoked after being arrested in Florida is suing Cobb County Sheriff Neil Warren for racial discrimination.
In a complaint filed Oct. 8 to the U.S. District Court of North Georgia, former Deputy Chester Coachman Jr., who is African American, alleges Warren held him to different standards than his white coworkers, disciplining him more harshly, assigning him to less desirable work and subjecting him to profane language and harassment.
In July 2017, Coachman was arrested in Tallahassee on charges of aggravated assault. He had traveled to Florida and confronted an individual over a family dispute. The man alleged Coachman pointed his gun at him and Coachman was arrested. Coachman’s attorneys with Atlanta-based Prioleau, Milfort and Rivers, LLC called this a false arrest and said the case was ultimately dismissed in March, 2018.
Following the arrest, Coachman was revoked of his certification by the Georgia Peace Officer Standards and Training council, and the sheriff’s office reassigned him to the role of criminal justice specialist.
The council eventually reinstated Coachman’s certification in February, but according to the court filing, the department never re-instated him as a sworn deputy, something his attorneys said had been done for similarly situated white officers following recertification.
Instead, the suit alleges, Coachman was assigned to “demeaning and degrading tasks designed to make him resign.” These include “cleaning showers, trash, dirty laundry and jail cells smeared in feces and old food without proper materials or equipment,” according to the complaint.
About a month after Coachman was recertified, the department told him he would not be reinstated to a sworn deputy position, the suit says. The reasons are not given in the lawsuit, but they are described as “false and pretext for race discrimination.”
Coachman’s attorneys say he is looking for relief including reinstatement as a deputy, full back pay from the date of his demotion including raises and benefits he would have been entitled to as well as compensatory damages in an amount to be determined by a jury.
The sheriff’s department declined to comment on the pending case.