A Nazi flag, an interracial relationship and a police officer's firing are all intertwined in a lawsuit filed in Georgia. Channel 2's Dave Huddleston talked to a black police officer who said he was fired for dating a fellow officer – a white woman.
Karone Robinson said going public with his relationship caused his life to quickly spin out of control. “What was that like for you?” Huddleston asked Robinson. “Extremely depressing, that was the lowest point I have ever been in my entire life,” he answered.
Robinson said all he ever wanted was to be a drug cop. He got the chance in the small town of Darien, Georgia, near Savannah. “So I jumped in with both feet,” said Robinson. He quickly moved up the ranks, becoming a full-time drug investigator. He made a major drug bust. “That was the best day of my life,” said Robinson.
But he said his life quickly fell apart when he and a fellow officer went public with their secret romance.
“It was one day I’m the best thing since sliced bread, and the next day I can’t walk and chew bubble gum. I can’t do anything right,” said Robinson.
“Did they ever say anything to you like why are you dating that white woman?” asked Huddleston. “No, not anything overt like that,” Robinson replied.
But Robinson said there were other signs he ignored, like the Nazi flag that hung for years in the Darien Police Department. “I totally blocked the flag out. It had been there for so long,” he said.
Robinson said the trouble began when the chief suspended him for going to Atlanta with his girlfriend in his police car. Robinson said the chief allowed officers use their patrol cars while off-duty. He was suspended again for working with the Sheriff’s Office.
The chief demoted him to a patrol officer. Robinson said he almost had a nervous breakdown.
“I’d go home. I’d cry. I’d be mad. I’d be depressed," he said.
A Lieutenant told Robinson that he and his girlfriend couldn’t work off-duty security at a popular restaurant. He said the staff no longer felt comfortable around them. “Immediately I know what it is. I mean the chief’s wife works there,” said Robinson.
During a deposition, the chief admitted to saying when he found out his daughter was “dating a black boy, I became so physically ill I vomited.”
Robinson said the chief created a paper trail to fire him, ultimately for failing to notify dispatch at the start and end of his shift. “It wasn’t even anything anybody had heard of,” said Robinson’s attorney, Katie Mitchell.
“Each of the witnesses that were deposed, there was not a single officer whether a party for the Darien Police Department or from another agency that had ever even heard of another officer’s being terminated for policy infractions such as failing to notify dispatch,” Mitchell said.
Robinson is suing the city of Darien and the Police Department leadership for race discrimination. “Not just the chief sees me as less than, the whole city sees me as less than, the council, the mayor, the city manager, you all see me as not worth it, not just me, all black people,” said Robinson.
Channel 2 reached out to Chief Donnie Howard and the others being sued. Their attorney emailed us, saying they don't comment on pending lawsuits.
Robinson said filing a lawsuit against the police brotherhood is something cops don’t do. But he said what they did to him was unforgivable. “That’s my fight and I’m going to fight it all the way to the end,” said Robinson.
Robinson's fight will move forward in court. In early April, a judge ruled the chief and a former co-worker do not have immunity. Robinson and his girlfriend broke up soon after he was fired. Channel 2 is not naming her because she has a separate case that is working its way through the legal system.
Cox Media Group