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Jury awards black D.C. officers $425K for retaliation

WASHINGTON — A federal jury has for the second time ruled in favor of five black District of Columbia police officers who said they were retaliated against after raising allegations of racial discrimination.

The jury awarded the officers $425,000 in damages, and a judge is expected to assign back pay and attorneys’ fees, said their lawyer, Jennifer Klar of Relman, Dane & Colfax in Washington.

The officers, who had been members of a specialized vice crime unit, alleged that they were made to reapply for their positions within the squad in 2006 after some of them accused a supervisor of racial discrimination. The officers were given new assignments instead of getting their old jobs back.

Lawyers for the city have denied the retaliation allegations and said in a statement Friday that they were studying the trial record to see whether there were grounds for another appeal.

Thursday’s verdict represented the second time that a jury had ruled in favor of the officers. A federal appeals court in February threw out a $900,000 verdict from the first trial because of what it said were improper remarks from a plaintiff’s lawyer during closing arguments.

The case went to trial again this month.

“I think the jury really understood what happened here, and their verdict makes clear that they weren’t buying the excuses that the district has continued to give for seven years,” Klar said.