by: Mike Petchenik Updated:
SANDY SPRINGS, Ga. - The City of Sandy Springs admits it fired a former police officer for comments he made on his personal Facebook page, but denies it did so as an excuse to rid the department of a minority officer who was complaining about his white colleagues, according to court papers filed this week.
Orlando Concepcion filed a wrongful termination lawsuit against the city in August, claiming the true reason behind his 2009 dismissal was because he had reported alleged misbehavior by white officers to his white superiors.
Concepcion admitted to Channel 2's Mark Winne in 2009 that he had posted several comments on his page, including: "Orlando J. Concepcion is back at work, frustrated with all the B.S." and "Orlando J. Concepcion is working with the FBI this week. I smell a million dollar drug seizure coming our way soon."
At the time, Concepcion told Channel 2's Mark Winne he felt like his Facebook page was his own personal space and that the city had no right to spy on it.
"I feel like the department's digging into my personal life," he told Winne.
In an answer filed this week in federal court, the city acknowledged it fired Concepcion over the posts and for placing an inappropriate cartoon in the mailbox of a female officer.
"All actions taken by the defendants affecting Plaintiff and/or the terms or conditions of his employment were taken for legitimate, non-discriminatory and non-retaliatory reasons," attorney R. Read Gignilliat wrote in in the city's response to the lawsuit.
City attorneys also contend Concepcion failed to file his lawsuit in a timely fashion and that he failed to exhaust all "administrative remedies" before filing his complaint.
Concepcion had alleged that other white officers posted similar content to their Facebook pages, but the city contends that wasn't the case.
Sandy Springs attorneys have asked a judge to dismiss the case and to award the city attorney's fees.
Concepcion's attorney, Curt Thompson, was in court Thursday and unable to respond to the city's filing.