The city of Columbus and a Muscogee County Marshal’s deputy have reached a settlement in a gender and racial discrimination suit that has been in federal court for more than five years.
Alicia Davenport has settled her claim against the office and Marshal Greg Countryman, according to a document filed in U.S. District Court, Middle District of Georgia on Monday morning.
The notice of settlement was filed by Davenport’s attorney Gwyn P. Newsome, who practices employment law in Columbus.
“…The city agreed to pay Officer Davenport $83,000, which represents her back-pay damages, pay she lost, pay she would have earned if she would have been able to work and earn her salary for five years,” Newsome told WRBL News 3 Monday. “We subtracted other money she was able to earn in the meantime. She was able to get some part-time time jobs, basically doing security for private companies.”
Columbus Council approved the settlement during it’s April 30 meeting.
As part of the agreement, Davenport agreed to resign her job as a deputy marshal by May 31.
She has agreed not to apply for another city of Columbus job but is not restricted from seeking elected office.
Countryman has agreed to speak on Davenport’s behalf with the Georgia Peace Officers Standards and Training Council, Newsome said.
Davenport lost her POST certification while she was suspended. She has since reapplied, but it’s still under review, Newsome said.
The December decision by Superior Court Judge Ben Land to dismiss pending criminal charges against Davenport paved the way for the settlement of the civil matter. The District Attorney’s Office failed to give Davenport proper notice before indicting her in 2017. That was the reason Land through the case out.
Land quashed a felony indictment alleging Davenport violated her oath of office in October 2013, when she left the scene of a traffic accident without giving the information she’d collected there to a Columbus police officer investigating the wreck. She was also accused of hitting the officer as she left that accident scene.
The dismissal of the criminal matter put the civil case — which had been on hold awaiting the outcome of the criminal matter — back on track in U.S. District Court Judge Clay Land’s court.
With the criminal matter dismissed, Countryman reinstated Davenport, who had been suspended without pay for five years, in January. In a letter to Davenport, Countryman said he was offering reinstatement “since the criminal case against you has been resolved without a conviction or admission of guilt.”
Countryman’s attorney David P. Helmick of Columbus issued the following statement when contacted by News 3.
“On October 28, 2013, a Columbus Police Officer made a complaint to the Marshal’s Department that Deputy Marshal Alicia Davenport struck him or nearly struck him with her vehicle when leaving a motor vehicle accident investigation,” Helmick said. “Deputy Davenport received five days suspension for not wearing a microphone during the incident and for conduct unbecoming of an officer.”
The criminal charges were filed by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation in December 2013.
“Marshal Countryman handled this personnel matter properly, within the law, and admitted no liability or wrongdoing in the settlement of the case,” the statement read. “Marshal Countryman advocated to reinstate Ms. Davenport to the Marshal’s Office after the criminal case ended. Now, after nearly six years, Marshal Countryman is pleased to move forward from this matter and wishes Ms. Davenport well.”
Davenport filed the federal suit in 2014, alleging that Countryman had retaliated against her because she was a black female.
“He disciplined her more harshly than comparable deputies,” Newsome said. “The criminal charge that was brought against her were motivated in part by the same racial discrimination and intent to retaliate.”
The settlement is a “reasonable, decent settlement for everybody,” Newsome said.
“Officer Davenport is happy with it, of course, she agreed to it, but it still doesn’t compensate her for everything she’s been through,” Newsome said. “She had to essentially put her law enforcement career on hold for five years.”
Countryman earlier this year announced he will not seek re-election to the marshal’s job. He plans to run for Muscogee County Sheriff against incumbent Donna Tompkins in the 2020 Democratic primary.