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City of Ithaca found liable in discrimination case

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CNY/NNY/S. Tier: City of Ithaca found liable in discrimination case
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A jury has awarded Ithaca police officer Chris Miller more than $2 million in a federal discrimination lawsuit. Tamara Lindstrom was in the courtroom. She has more on the outcome of the trial and what's next.

BINGHAMTON, N.Y. -- After nearly a month of testimony and two days of deliberation, it's a win for suspended Ithaca police officer Chris Miller.

"He works day by day to recover his reputation and I think it's been tarnished and I think it's been very difficult for him and his family. And I think this is a step along the way of recovering that," said AJ Bosman, Miller’s attorney.

Miller sued the City of Ithaca and five of his superiors in the police department. He said he was passed over for promotions because he is white.

While the jury did not find those claims to be true, they did agree that department leaders retaliated against Miller for filing a complaint with the state Human Rights division.

Miller's attorney says she's disappointed the discrimination charges didn't stick.

Bosman said, "I am in the sense that I think the policies and practices that are in place failed to recognize that you can't discriminate against anyone on the basis of race. It doesn't matter what color you are."

The jury awarded Miller $2 million in damages from the City of Ithaca and one dollar from each the four defendants found liable for retaliation.

"I think that they did that without a lot of information that could have been provided, but was kept out by the judge for various reasons and legal rulings," Bosman said.

Police Chief Ed Vallely, Deputy Chiefs John Barber and Pete Tyler and Lieutenant Marlon Byrd were all found liable for retaliation. Their attorneys declined to comment, but Ithaca Mayor Svante Myrick sent out a statement expressing his disappointment, saying, "We believe this unfortunate verdict is the result of a number of serious errors. We will likely appeal and hope the appellate court will right this wrong."

As for Miller, his attorney says it's unlikely he'll return to work as a police officer, despite the outcome of the trial.

The defendants have 28 days to file a notice of appeal.

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