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Fresno Police Sergeant Files Racial Discrimination Lawsuit

Mar 22, 2016

A Fresno police sergeant has filed a lawsuit against the city, saying he was the subject of discrimination because he is Hispanic. In court documents, Sergeant Paul Cervantes claims that he has been demoted, targeted for workplace harassment, investigation and criminal prosecution because of his race. 

The allegations date back to 2008, when Cervantes himself faced prosecution for allegedly possessing stolen property, stealing a SUV from a drug dealer, and turning it over to a police informant. A jury later acquitted Cervantes, who denied the charges and claimed he didn't know the vehicle was stolen.

Now Cervantes is the subject of another internal affairs investigation, which he says is being pushed by the same people in the department who led to his earlier prosecution. In the lawsuit, Cervantes claims that sergeants Timothy Tietjen and detectives Bradley Alcorn and Cary Phelps spread rumors in the department that Cervantes and other Hispanics on the force were “dirty” and “corrupt" and "dishonest."

The suit also alleges that Tietjen attempted to bribe an informant with $50,000 and a car to provide false testimony against Cervantes. The current internal investigation resulted in Cervantes being demoted from the MAGEC anti-gang unit to the patrol division. Cervantes says he reported his civil rights concerns to management, which allegedly took no corrective action. In addition he claims the department gives preferential treatment to white officers.