LA MARQUE — A jury Thursday awarded the former school district police chief $83,236.

The jury of five men and five women found that Russel Washington, who was fired in a 4-3 vote by La Marque school trustees in 2010, was given a chance to defend his employment to the board: jurors found that former Trustee Cynthia Bell-Malveaux, who voted to terminate the chief’s contract, had a bias that deprived Washington of due process and a fair hearing. At the time of the vote, Bell-Malveaux had a pending defamation lawsuit against Washington.

The former police chief was awarded $7,265 in back wages, $5,562 in local leave and $70,049 in damages for mental anguish.

Washington testified that he has struggled to find work in law enforcement since he was fired in 2010. The La Marque native said he also developed a stress-induced illness that made it difficult to keep down food.

He filed a federal lawsuit alleging wrongful termination against the school district in 2012, after a post-termination hearing and unsuccessful attempts to get back his job.

Washington was fired while under indictment on a charge of falsifying records to obtain a car title. Those charges were later dismissed.

Former Superintendent Ecomet Burley placed the then-police chief on paid administrative leave when news of the pending indictment came to light, several district employees testified during the trial.

Ollie Ford, the former director of human resources for the district, said Washington was given several opportunities to explain why he was the subject of a criminal investigation.

Ford said Washington was directed to give district administrators a statement defending his position, but only supplied a three-sentence letter from his attorney.

Testimony from current trustees about the March 25, 2010, board meeting at which Washington was fired revealed that there was a discussion about whether Bell-Malveaux had a conflict of interest voting on the employment of a man she was suing then.

The former trustee later dropped her lawsuit against Washington.

Contact reporter Alex Macon at 409-683-5241 or alex.macon@galvnews.com.

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(6) comments

rah

Money for Washington should come from the person who put him on paid leave and then, fired him.

MissionaryMan
Walter Manuel

Rah, why would you say what you did when the article states, "The jury of five men and five women found that Russel Washington, who was fired in a 4-3 vote by La Marque school trustees in 2010, was given a chance to defend his employment to the board"?

What doesn't make any sense is that the jurors found a conflict of interest with Cynthia Bell-Malveaux voting because of her pending lawsuit, but didn't have any problem with Annie Burton or Shirley Fanuiel voting on his job when they were outspoken personal friends of Russel's then and even in court supporting him?

$70, 000 and some change for mental anguish when the court found that the district was justified in terminating someone just doesn't make any sense, but it makes more sense to give him that money and send him on his way.

So did jurors really get it right??

Be ready to break open your wallets LMISD taxpayers because I wouldn't be surprised if the districts insurance doesn't cover for "mental anguish".

Valerie Beverly

Ummmm some people will sue just cause they cant take what you have to say......

Valerie Beverly

Or feel its justified to try and silence people with threats of such, when it has no basis. They will try anything some people.

Gary ONeil

Everyone wants to sue.....Don't get your way, don't like having to do your job, don't like your boss...get fired THEN SUE.....It's the American Way......Jurys are made up of people that 'wish they could be lucky enough to get a big settlement'. Sad Sad times.

Andy Aycoth

I want some !

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