Court Battles

Lawsuit says NYPD officer faced harassment after paying for shoplifter’s stolen food

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A New York Police Department officer who gained national attention in 2019 after buying groceries for a hungry shoplifter filed a federal lawsuit Tuesday against the NYPD, claiming he was harassed by a superior officer over the incident.

Louis Sojo, who is Hispanic, filed a federal complaint accusing Capt. Julio Delgado of “repeated insults and race disparaging remarks” while overseeing the Strategic Response Group.

The lawsuit, which was also filed at the state level in August with the Supreme Court of New York, names the city of New York, the NYPD and Delgado as defendants and cites violations of federal and state civil rights laws preventing racial discrimination and hostile environments in the workplace.

The Guardian first reported the news.

An NYPD spokesperson told The Hill that they could not comment on pending litigation, but said in a statement that “racial discrimination is prohibited by federal, state, and city laws as well as Department policies, and the NYPD takes seriously all accusations of such behavior.”

“The NYPD thoroughly investigates all complaints it receives, and offers several reporting options for NYPD employees, including anonymously,” the spokesperson added. “The Department does not tolerate discrimination in any form and is committed to respectful work environments for our diverse workforce.”

Sojo, who was first hired by the NYPD in 1997 and was promoted to lieutenant in 2014, said Delgado was assigned to oversee him in 2018, according to the complaint.

From the beginning, Delgado allegedly subjected Sojo to abuse, including sabotaging his locker so he was late for roll call and calling him names such as “S— Trump” or “slumlord.”

The harassment later evolved to denying Sojo his right to use the bathroom or even work overtime hours, according to the complaint.

Sojo, along with two other officers, was called to a Whole Foods in July 2019 in response to a woman who had shoplifted from the store. Instead of arresting or fining her, the officers made headlines for buying her groceries.

Despite earning accolades for the good will, Delgado was criticized for not making the arrest and transferred to Manhattan to work a midnight shift.

“Sojo has been repeatedly discriminated against, made to suffer extreme hostile work environment and has been unfairly targeted,” the lawsuit says.

—Updated at 4:45 p.m.

Tags Julio Delgado Louis Sojo New York New York City Police Department New York Police Department shoplifting workplace harassment

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