Portsmouth, VA – Former Portsmouth Police Chief Angeles Greene filed a $15.4 million wrongful termination lawsuit against the city on Friday morning that alleged she was fired in retaliation for ignoring city leaders’ unlawful orders in connection with a monument protest and the following investigation during the summer of 2020.
Former Chief Green’s complaint was filed in Portsmouth General District Court on April 9, WVEC reported.
The lawsuit alleged the wildly popular police chief was fired out of retaliation for following the law and her sworn oath.
The lawsuit, which called for consequential and punitive damages totaling about $15.6 million, also alleged the defendants committed torturous interference with business/contract expectancy, gross negligence, and multiple instances of defamation.
City officials fired Chief Greene in November of 2020 without giving her a reason and right away, she publicly said she planned to fight back.
“I believe I was wrongfully terminated for upholding the law, and [I’m] being retaliated against for sticking to my sworn oath; that I swore to serve and protect my citizens, community, and keeping my officers safe ” Chief Greene told reporters and supporters at a press conference in front of City Hall on Nov. 16.
“Twenty years… hard work. I never thought it would have ended this way,” she said.
Chief Green’s termination came just a little more than two months after she was suspended by then-Portsmouth City Manager Lydia Pettis Patton, The Virginian-Pilot reported.
The incident that sparked the controversy between the city leadership and the popular police chief who took the helm at the department in March of 2019, began after a violent protest at the city’s Confederate monument on June 10, 2020.
City leaders had postponed yet another a vote on whether to move the monument and protesters gathered for a rally around it and began spray-painting the historic monument, The Virginian-Pilot reported.
Later in the evening, protesters beheaded four statues of soldiers on the monument.
One of the heads fell and landed on somebody, seriously injuring him, The Virginian-Pilot reported.
Then-Chief Greene infuriated city leadership in August when she brought charges against 14 of the people involved in the riot, including Virginia State Senator Louise Lucas, several National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) leaders, multiple public defenders, and a school board member.
All 14 people were charged with felony injury to a monument, and eight of them were also charged with conspiracy, The Virginian-Pilot reported.
Five more protesters were charged later.
But a few days later, Pettis Patton sent an email to the city council that said Portsmouth police were dropping the charges because of a conflict of interest, The Virginian-Pilot reported.
The now-former city manager never explained what the conflict of interest was.
But the attorney for former Chief Greene, Thomas K. Plofchan, Jr., said that no conflict of interest existed, The Virginian-Pilot reported.
“She is unfortunately the victim of political infighting,” Plofchan said. “She was a neutral employee hired to faithfully execute the laws, and when she did so, political powers that be bristled at that.”
Pettis Patton also announced on Sept. 4 that she had placed Chief Greene on administrative leave pending an investigation into her personnel file, The Virginian-Pilot reported.
No information about that investigation was released.
Then on Nov. 16, 2020, a judge dismissed the charges against everyone from the June protest and Interim Portsmouth City Manager LaVoris Pace handed Chief Greene her walking papers.
Former Chief Greene had gun and badge taken. Left office with no job, no income, and a legal defense fund has been set up. Angela Greene Defense Fund on Go Find Me. @WAVY_News pic.twitter.com/z62GoGrN6M
— Andy Fox (@AndyFoxWAVY) November 16, 2020
Former Chief Greene said that the city manager had handed her a resignation letter but hadn’t given her any explanation for her termination other than that she was an “at-will” employee.
The now-former police chief, who has children and cares for an elderly parent, said the city didn’t give her any severance pay, WVEC reported.
She told reporters that she wanted her job back and she planned to file a wrongful termination lawsuit against the city to get it.
“I believe what would be fair is full reinstatement, because I did nothing wrong. That would be fair, that would be my first option,” the angry veteran law enforcement officer said.
The former police chief has sued the city and five city and state officials who were involved in the monument debacle that led to her firing, WVEC reported.