PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — Former Portsmouth Police Chief Angela Greene has officially filed her wrongful termination lawsuit against the city after she was fired in the wake of the city’s Confederate monument incident.
Greene filed the lawsuit on Friday morning. It lists the City of Portsmouth, former City Manager Lydia Pettis Patton and Acting City Manager Lavoris Pace as defendants.
Greene was fired from the Portsmouth Police Department back in November after the incident at the Confederate monument over the summer, which led to a man being seriously hurt and more than a dozen Black community leaders, including state Sen. L. Louise Lucas, being charged. The charges were later dropped.
Body camera footage obtained by 10 On Your Side of the day of the incident showed Lucas telling police that protesters were going to paint the statue, and “[police] can’t arrest them.”
“I’m Senator Louise Lucas,” she said to officers hours before the demonstration later that night that injured the protester, Chris Green. “I know I’m in disguise, but they are going to put some paint on this thing. You can not arrest them. You need to call Dr. Patton, because they are going to do it. You can’t stop them. This is city property.”
Police did not intervene in the demonstration until Chris Green was injured. Angela Greene said that she never gave an order to police to ignore the destruction of property, but pointed to Lucas’ directions for officers to allow protesters to vandalize the monument.
The next day, Patton sent an email saying no member of City Council nor any elected official gave a directive not to arrest for vandalism, and put the decision solely on Greene.
After Greene filed those charges against Lucas and the other, Pettis Patton, who said Greene shouldn’t have been involved in the investigation, resigned. Former City Attorney Solomon Ashby was also fired, and later filed a $2 million defamation lawsuit against former Mayor John Rowe.
Greene denied she did anything wrong, and said she filed the charges “because laws were broken” and says she believes local politicians shouldn’t interfere with police matters.
Earlier this month, Greene was hired as the new police chief of Lexington, Virginia.
The city declined to comment on the case.
After the lawsuit was filed, Greene’s attorney provided a statement on the case:
“Angela Greene filed a lawsuit this morning seeking damages for being wrongfully terminated as the Chief of Police from the City of Portsmouth, and for being defamed professionally and personally.
“Ms. Greene’s lawsuit names as Defendants the City of Portsmouth, former City Manager Lydia Patton, interim City Manager LaVoris Pace, City Council Member Lisa Lucas-Burke, State Senator L. Louise Lucas, and Milton R. Blount. Ms. Greene’s 7 count Verified Complaint includes claims for wrongful termination (both retaliation for refusing to obey an illegal order and retaliation for complying with Virginia law), tortious interference with a contract/business expectancy, and gross negligence. Ms. Greene has also asserted claims of defamation per se against Blount, Lucas, and Lucas-Burke, for their blatantly false factual assertions regarding Ms. Greene’s conduct as Chief of Police.
Ms. Greene looks forward to favorably resolving these matters.”
The Portsmouth Fraternal Order of Police also released a lengthy statement Friday afternoon about the lawsuit.
The FOP said they support Greene in her case and said she only followed her “oath to uphold the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Virginia.”
“Unfortunately, the City of Portsmouth, and its executive leadership, have continued the trend of leading with emotion and trendy words that lack much substance, if any at all. This type of leadership, as it has done in times past, have led to yet another lawsuit that will result in the City of Portsmouth being held accountable, once again, for their poor leadership decisions.”
The statement continued: “The Fraternal Order of Police will stand the line diligently in support of Chief Greene and her lawsuit while being blatantly clear that City Leadership should start putting its citizens and staff first when making their decisions for all of us.”