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Local News

No settlement reached in former Joliet cop's lawsuit over racial discrimination claims

A settlement has not been reached in a retired Joliet police officer’s racial discrimination lawsuit against the city of Joliet, a former police chief and a deputy chief, court records show.

A settlement conference took place March 10 in Lionel Allen’s federal lawsuit case against the city, former Joliet Police Chief Brian Benton and Deputy Police Chief Marc Reid, according to court records.

Allen, who is black, claimed in the lawsuit that other officers racially discriminated against him, and he suffered retaliation after speaking out against another officer's racism.

City officials have denied Allen’s allegations.

U.S. District Judge Jeffrey Cole said that despite the best efforts of both parties and their attorneys, the case “is not settleable at this time,” according to the court minutes. Cole said the legal work “done by both counsel was exemplary” and “far exceeded” their duties as attorneys and their obligations to the court.

“Both counsel conducted themselves admirably and approached the conference in the cooperative spirit that unfortunately too few lawyers exhibit in today's contentious climate,” Cole said.

The case then was returned to U.S. District Judge Steven Seeger for further status hearings.

Allen hired attorney Aaron Rapier of Naperville-based Rapier Law Firm after his previous attorneys, Julie Herrera and Steven Molitor, withdrew from the case in October. Herrera declined to explain why they couldn't "continue to ethically or effectively represent" Allen.

On Thursday, Rapier said he didn’t think it was appropriate to “comment on the case at this time” but would talk about it at a later date.

On Jan. 11, 2019, Joliet Police Chief Al Roechner recommended Allen for termination.

After an internal affairs investigation, Roechner found Allen violated several department policies by reporting to duty in 2018 while under the influence of alcohol and not dressed in his proper uniform, according to police records.

Allen retired Aug. 8, 2019, while his termination case was pending before the Joliet Board of Fire and Police Commissioners.

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