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U.S. Court of Appeals rejects officer’s claim of discrimination at Syracuse Police Department

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — The well-known Syracuse Police Officer Brandon Hanks — known for hosting one-on-one basketball matches for children to win a pair of sneakers — has heard back from the U.S. Court of Appeals after suing the department.

Hanks filed a lawsuit against the Syracuse Police Department on claims of “extreme racism” and “Jim Crow culture” back in 2021, and after two years, his discrimination claim has been rejected.

Back in 2021, Officer Hanks claimed he was denied a promotion because of his race and because other officers fabricated evidence as to why he shouldn’t be promoted.

The lawsuit claimed a captain on the unit “recruited” six other officers to “dig up dirt” on Hanks, which resulted in a memo that called him a “gang member,” a “narcotics trafficker,” “gang-affiliated,” and listens to “rap music.”

“Well, I just think it’s important to note that we have an admitted racist who raised his hand and took an oath to tell the truth so help me God and he’s admitting to being racist and he’s been promoted. Since the time he gave that deposition, he’s been promoted,” said Hanks’ attorney Jesse Ryder back in August.

Additionally, the lawsuit asked that Officer Hanks be paid $33 million in retribution and that the Syracuse Police Department fix the practices that led to discrimination against their client, along with establishing a task force on equality and fairness.

The Office of Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh sent out a statement on Tuesday, Dec. 26, stating that the case brought by Officer Hanks to the City of Syracuse Corporation Counsel Sue Katzoff on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit decision was dismissed.

The appeals court rejected the claims and found the other arguments mentioned above to be without merit.

“The City of Syracuse welcomes the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit decision to affirm a lower court dismissal of all claims for discrimination and retaliation against the Syracuse Police Department. The complaints were brought in 2021 by Officer Brandon Hanks. The Appeals Court rejected claims of discrimination, retaliation, and hostile work environment and found other arguments to be without merit. The City believes this is the right decision. Mayor Walsh, Chief Cecile, and the Department leadership will not tolerate discriminatory behavior of any kind in the Syracuse Police Department.”

City of Syracuse Corporation Counsel

The full statement can be found below:

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