LAS VEGAS (FOX5) -- A former police chief with Henderson Police Department filed a lawsuit against the city Tuesday, claiming racial and gender discrimination.
LaTesha Watson was hired as the HPD police chief in Sept. 2017 and was fired in April 2019 after several complaints were lodged against her alleging harassment within the workplace.
In the lawsuit filed Sept. 22 of this year, Watson claimed she was the one harassed by her colleagues. The complaint alleged "systemic discrimination based upon race and gender" and a "good old boy" network within HPD.
"While the City of Henderson and the Defendants gave Dr. Watson a seat at the table, they did not want her to have a voice," the complaint read.
The complaint also alleged Henderson Police Supervisors Union President Sgt. Kevin Abernathy told officers, "I want this Black [expletive] out of here and we need to find complaints against her." The complaint also said Abernathy encouraged union members to file false complaints against Watson.
"All complaints (against Watson) were investigated and ultimately no violations were found," the complaint read.
In a statement, the city of Henderson denied any wrongdoing and said Watson's allegations only came to light after she was fired.
"Unsubstantiated claims of racism and discrimination were presented by former employee LaTesha Watson only after she was terminated by the City of Henderson on April 11, 2019 for disciplinary reasons. The City has extensive documentation, including investigations by an impartial third-party, that overwhelmingly establish that Ms. Watson’s job performance was unsatisfactory and she was not qualified to lead the Henderson Police Department. Ms. Watson made poor and ineffective leadership decisions and created distrust and division within the organization. The City’s expectations for team members in a leadership role are to demonstrate professionalism and to work by the City’s fundamental values of integrity, collaboration and excellence."
Watson alleged that the HPD allegations against her led to being turned down for multiple jobs in other cities.
According to the lawsuit, Watson is seeking reparations for past or future lost opportunities and any damages relevant to the allegations.
Watson is now the director of Sacramento's Office of Public Safety and Accountability.