Former Orting officer claims racial discrimination for firing

Orting, Wash. --- The first African American officer in the Orting Police Department is claiming racial discrimination against the city and the police chief.

Gerry Pickens was fired from the department in September of 2014 just five days before his probationary period was over.  Pickens claims he was never given an evaluation during his nearly year long probation period.  Pickens also says he was told the reason for the firing was that his work was unsatisfactory.

Now, Pickens has filed a tort claim with the Equal Opportunity Commission claiming racial discrimination against the city and the Police Chief William Drake.

The tort claim alleges Chief Drake of using racial slurs in reference to Pickens.  It also alleges the chief telling Pickens to find a job elsewhere because there are members of the Klu Klux Klan in the area.

Pickens lawyer says they are seeking 5 million dollars in damages if they file a lawsuit.

Last month, Pickens' SUV  was vandalized with a racial slur and a warning not to sue the chief of Orting Police.

The city of Orting has 90 days to respond to the claims.