Earl Wright (47987)

LOS ANGELES, Calif. — The Los Angeles City Council signed off today on a $1.5 million legal settlement for a Black police officer whose supervisor presented him with a cake for 20 years of service that was topped with a leg of fried chicken and a slice of watermelon.

Earl Wright, a 23-year LAPD veteran who sued the city alleging racial harassment, a hostile work environment and discrimination was awarded $1.2 million by a Los Angeles Superior Court jury in March.

The $1,498,884 settlement approved by City Council also covers attorney fees, court costs and other penalties, according city attorney spokesman Frank Mateljan.

Wright’s attorney, Gregory W. Smith, accused former Sgt. Peter Foster, who is White, of making Wright’s life so intolerable that he was hospitalized at one point and off work for a total of seven months.

Wright filed his suit in January 2011, claiming the offensive conduct began in 2008-09. According to trial testimony, Foster presented Wright with a cake for 20 years of service, but it was topped with a fried chicken leg and a slice of watermelon, according to the lawsuit.

In June 2010, Foster sent Wright a text message showing a yellow duckling with its wings above its head while standing in front of five Black ducklings, according to the suit. It was captioned with the “N” word to ask the reader what he was up to, the suit stated.

Wright said a photograph of him and that of another officer, Lenny Davis, were incorporated into a “Sanford and Son” poster that was displayed at the Central Station where Wright worked.

Finally, anxiety and high blood pressure caused Wright to be hospitalized, and he was off work for seven months until February 2011, Smith said.

Wright realized at that point that he had to stand up for himself, Smith said.

Although Foster was eventually transferred and is no longer with the department, Smith said his superiors were too slow to take action and should have removed him immediately.

A jury also awarded $1.25 million this past spring to two lesbian officers who claimed sexual harassment.