• Former Mt. Dora police officer claims mistreatment due to race, sues department

    By: Myrt Price


    LAKE COUNTY, Fla. - A former Mt. Dora police and school resource officer has filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the department, alleging a hostile work environment.

    St. Francis Smith listed numerous claims in the complaint, including being placed into a "dangerous position and exposed to unsafe practices," and also claimed that he was coerced into joining the SWAT team despite being uncomfortable with SWAT team practices. 

    Smith also alleged he was the subject of an "unfounded and hostile investigation by Chief John O'Grady."  

    The filing also claimed O'Grady ignored emails from Smith asking for administrative advice and that he didn't receive the same type of support for programs he initiated and developed as some of his coworkers. He also said that O'Grady threatened to make his personal and private emails public. 

    Smith said after he filed a complaint, he was retaliated against by O'Grady and was accused of being "mentally unstable" by the chief. 

    Smith claims because of his complaints about racial discrimination, he was put on administrative leave and given a psych evaluation. He said he was eventually forced into signing a resignation letter to protect his privacy.

    O'Grady was eventually fired from his position following an investigation into racially insensitive comments he made during a public event in April.

    Smith also claims in the lawsuit that there is an unwritten rule inside the department that systematically discriminates against African-Americans and favors white employees.

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