A Black Ohio police officer whose then-police chief placed a “Ku Klux Klan” sign on his jacket has filed a discrimination complaint against the department, and demanded the release of documents regarding other alleged offensive conduct.
Sheffield Lake police officer Keith Pool accused former police chief Anthony Campo of repeated harassment based on his race. Pool also accused Campo of attempting to interfere with him ever being hired.
“Other police division employees have told me that before I was hired, Mr. Campo interfered with my application and recruitment process and said in the presence of multiple employees that he would never hire a ‘n****r,'” Pool said in a complaint filed with the Ohio Civil Rights Commission.
At the time he was hired, Pool was the only Black officer on the Sheffield Lake force.
“Anthony Campo harassed me on an ongoing basis because I am Black,” Pool’s complaint said. “One or more of my other superior officers had knowledge of Mr. Campo harassing me because I am Black but did not stop him.”
In addition to the civil rights complaint, Pool filed a mandamus petition with the Ohio Supreme Court, asking the court to order the city of Sheffield Lake to release documents Pool has previously requested—documents that, according to Pool, reveal Campo’s other racially offensive actions.
Pool joined the police department in September 2020, and was the only Black police officer in the department at the time.
In June, video showed former Sheffield Lake police chief Anthony Campo placing a piece of paper with the words “Ku Klux Klan” on the back of a jacket belonging to officer Keith Pool.
Campo allegedly showed his handiwork to another police department employee before Pool discovered the note.
Shortly thereafter, Campo allegedly created a pointy hat in the style of the KKK hood, and placed it on his head. According to Pool, Campo told him that he would have to wear the hat during his next call.
“This was not the first incidence of racist and offensive conduct committed by my former boss, Anthony Campo,” Pool said in a press release. “It was just the first time he got caught on video. I have direct knowledge of numerous examples of this kind of workplace harassment, and the City of Sheffield Lake’s failure to turn over public records related to these abuses makes me feel dehumanized and insulted.”
Pool’s complaint outlines other alleged discriminatory acts he says were taken against him due to his race.
“Mr. Campo created racially offensive images mocking me, which he posted on police department bulletin boards and showed to other employees,” the complaint says.
One such image Campo created “includes Officer Pool’s face, depicts him as the grim reaper and includes the caption ‘The Raccoon Reaper,'” the document request says.
“He also posted images racially harassing the only Latino officer in the division, including [an] image depicting the Latino officer’s face as part of a salsa logo,” Pool’s complaint says. Other images allegedly targeted employees for their race or religion, and at least one contained a “homophobic slur and an employee’s face.”
Campo allegedly created other images, showing them to other employees before destroying them.
“With the most offensive ‘Face in Hole’ images, Mr. Campo would print and show them to Division of Police employees and then shred them in the Division of Police shredder,” Pool’s mandamus petition says.
Campo’s actions extended beyond what he could do with a computer and printer, according to Pool.
“Mr. Campo made racially offensive remarks, including telling me and a biracial officer, when we were sitting in a squad car, that it looked like our windows were tinted, referring to the fact that we have dark skin,” Pool’s complaint says.
Pool had been with the Sheffield Lake police just eight months when the Ku Klux Klan sign incident occurred.
Campo had been with the department for around 33 years, spending the last eight as chief.
The mandamus request says that City of Sheffield Lake mayor Dennis Bring was aware of Campos’ actions, as he “regularly came to the station on days when Mr. Campo had posted ‘Face in Hole’ images on bulletin boards.”
In July, Bring immediately placed Campo on administrative leave. He told a local newspaper that he intended to fire him, but instead allowed Campo to resign.
After the incident, ex-Chief Campo told local NBC affiliate WKYC that the entire incident was being “overblown” and said that he believed there were people in the department that had been trying to bring him down. He offered an apology but reportedly said he the KKK sign was part of “joking back and forth banter.”
Representatives from Sheffield Lake did not immediately reply to Law&Crime’s request for comment.
You can read Pool’s discrimination complaint and mandamus request below.
(Images via Pfeiffer Wolf Carr Kane & Conway)
Have a tip we should know? [email protected]