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Former LPD officer files lawsuit against City of Lincoln

Another former female Lincoln Police officer has filed a lawsuit against the City of Lincoln.
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Sara Khalil(10/11 NOW)

LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - Another former female Lincoln Police officer has filed a lawsuit against the City of Lincoln.

Sara Khalil, who was fired from LPD in February, filed the lawsuit on Monday claiming discrimination.

According to court documents, Khalil is alleging harassment based on her race and gender during her time employed by LPD, as well as when she previously worked for Lincoln Fire and Rescue.

She worked for LFR in 2011 and 2012 before joining LPD in 2013.

“Sara spoke up about the harassment and discrimination that she and other female officers were experiencing, her situation became significantly worse. Following her complaints, Sara was targeted, subjected to unfounded internal investigations, denied special assignments and promotions, and ultimately fired,” the lawsuit states.

The lawsuit lists numerous situations that Khalil and her attorney, Kelly Brandon, describe as discriminatory. Included is an incident of excessive force involving another officer in 2014, where Khalil claims she was harassed after cooperating with an Internal Affairs investigation.

Khalil said following her participation in that investigation, she heard officers say “she better not need backup on a call.” The lawsuit said this caused her to be scared to go on calls and have panic attacks at work and when she reported this behavior, nothing was done to protect her.

The lawsuit also lists allegations of denial of promotions and special assignments including a position on the SWAT team and traffic unit, despite Khalil believing she was qualified. The lawsuit alleges she was denied the position on the traffic unit because the captain said the motorcycles were “too big and heavy” for Khalil, despite the fact she had been a motorcycle rider for years.

The lawsuit outlined instances where Khalil made complaints and faced retaliation and harassment including being told she was only selected for a specialized position because she was a person of color, that her baby looked “very white,” and that she can’t be trusted because she’s a woman of color.

In addition, Khalil states that an investigator, which she believes was hired by the City of Lincoln, followed her while she was on medical leave for a work-related injury in 2021 and captured video of her teaching Brazilian Jiu Jitsu classes, which eventually led to her firing in February of 2022. The lawsuit alleges during the investigation into her medical leave and insurance claims, Lincoln Police Chief Teresa Ewins wouldn’t listen to her and called her a liar multiple times.

10/11 NOW requested confirmation that a private investigator was hired to follow Khalil. While the city wouldn’t send documentation, they confirmed such documents existed.

In a March 3, 2022 Facebook post to the Lincoln Police Department page, Lincoln Police Chief Teresa Ewins stated the following:

“I made the difficult decision to terminate an employee who had been employed as a police officer after the city’s Risk Management brought to my attention that an investigation they conducted showed the officer had provided false information in a worker’s compensation claim and in the representations of an on-duty injury, in violation of department policy and Nebraska law. This investigation was not initiated at the request of the police department nor with our knowledge. After becoming aware of that investigation, a review of the evidence it contained led me to the same conclusion that Risk Management had reached. Law enforcement is rightly held to high ethical standards and my decision to terminate this employee was based on my conclusion the officer had seriously violated those standards.”

Lincoln Police Chief Teresa Ewins

The lawsuit claims Ewins’ statement falsely accuses Khalil of “lying to support her worker’s compensation claim.”

10/11 NOW reached out to the City of Lincoln for comment on Wednesday, and received the following statement from Ewins:

The City of Lincoln has been made aware by a journalist of a lawsuit filed against the City of Lincoln by former police officer Sara Khalil. The City of Lincoln has not been served with the lawsuit therefore, we will not comment on any details it might contain at this time.

We support the right of everyone to seek redress through our court system. I continue to maintain that the termination was lawful. Ms. Khalil has appealed her termination to the Personnel Board and evidence supporting her termination will be brought forward at that time.”

The lawsuit follows other suits filed by former female LPD officers Sarah Williams, Angela Sands, Melissa Ripley, and Erin Spilker.