APD sergeant claims he was demoted, retaliated against after filing complaint against senior officer

ATLANTA — An Atlanta police officer says he was demoted and retaliated against after he filed a complaint accusing a senior officer of racial discrimination.

Channel 2 investigative reporter Richard Belcher learned that the timing of the demotion is critical in a lawsuit that is already very expensive for the city.

According to his attorney, then-Sgt. Corey Moore was demoted by Maj. Darin Schierbaum after Moore complained to internal affairs.

Since then, the city has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars defending a case it could have settled.

Moore’s attorney said what happened to his client hadn’t happened in nearly a quarter of a century.

“Officer Moore is the first non-probationary sergeant to be demoted since 1995. It just doesn’t happen,” attorney Daniel Cole said.

Moore had been on the force 11 years when he filed his discrimination complaint in 2019. He charged that discipline for officers of color tended to be more severe than for white officers.

“There have been other sergeants that committed serious infractions that weren’t even investigated. Others committed crimes — including DUI — that didn’t result in demotions,” Cole said.

Moore’s trouble began after an incident in which four Georgia Tech students were kidnapped and forced to withdraw hundreds of dollars from an ATM on Lee Street.

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A suspect was caught a month later and ultimately convicted. But Moore’s attorney said his client was accused of mishandling the case by failing to fingerprint the victims’ car.

That came from then-Maj. Darin Schierbaum.

Moore said then-Atlanta Police Chief Ericka Shields refused to meet with him to hear his complaint, so he went to internal affairs.

Things quickly got worse.

“Just 20 days later, the very major who Officer Moore had raised a complaint of discrimination against, recommended that Sergeant Moore be demoted, the first one since 1995,” Cole said.

And what about Moore’s complaint against Schierbaum — who is now assistant police chief, No. 2 in the whole department and mentioned as a candidate for chief?

“The formal complaint that was filed by Officer Moore on April 24th was closed five days later. There was never any formal investigation, no interview,” Moore said.

Cole told Belcher that Moore’s demotion sends a clear message.

“You do not speak up against your supervisors, even though you have a federally protected right to do so,” Cole said.

Cole said they offered to settle for no payment. He said the Atlanta Police Department could have ordered new training and placed Moore on probation if it restored his rank. The city declined.

Records show the city has spent at least $350,000 defending the suit so far.

APD declined comment on this story.

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