City, Former Rochester Police Lieutenant Reach $1 Million Settlement

September 19, 2017 11:35 PM

(ABC 6 News) - Former Rochester Police Lieutenant Elisa Umpierre will receive a $1 million settlement for a case involving accusations of racial bias.

"Every morning, I wake up with this on my mind because to me it was a grand injustice," Umpierre said.  


Umpierre said the trouble started before she filed her racial bias complaint.

"I received a call from my captain saying that I was being put on administrative leave for Facebook posts that had come to the department’s attention," Umpierre said. 

Several co-workers filed a complaint against Umpierre for posting about racial incidents and use of force by police. Months later, Umpierre filed a complaint with the Minnesota Department of Human Rights, saying a white male was promoted over a more qualified minority, who had been passed up many times before.

"The next day I handed in the paper work to my captain, who then shared it with the Chief; me, reporting both as a Human Rights commissioner and as this officer's lieutenant, [for] the possibility of bias against this officer," Umpierre said.  

Shortly after, Umpierre was sent a letter of termination. The city hired a private attorney to delegate the case, which led to a $1 million settlement that the Rochester City Council approved Monday. 

"The settlement agreement requires Miss Umpierre to request that she withdraw her complaint with that state agency," attorney Jana O’Leary Sullivan with the League of Minnesota Cities said.

Sullivan said $800,000 of that will come from the city and $200,000 will come from from the League of Minnesota Cities.

"The city specifically denies that it's engaged in any wrongdoing,” Sullivan said. “The city decided to settle this case because they thought it was in the best interest of the city, the residents of the city that it serves as well as Miss Umpierre."

"A settlement of $1 million in a case like this should speak strongly for itself that any thinking human being might draw their own conclusions that whether or not the city was wrong here," Umpierre said.

As of Tuesday, Umpierre is officially retired from the Rochester Police Department. She said she'll continue to show her support for Social Justice and Human Rights.


Elise Romas

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