Former MSP Captain Files Discrimination Lawsuit In Livingston County
October 27, 2021
By Jon King / email@example.com
CORRECTION: A previous version of this story indicated that Caldwell's federal lawsuit had been dismissed. In fact, only certain portions of the suit were dismissed, but it otherwise remains intact.
A lawsuit has been filed in Livingston County Circuit Court by a former Michigan State Police Captain who claims he was demoted after he opposed diversity initiatives that disadvantaged white troopers.
Michael Caldwell filed the action September 21st against the Michigan State Police, MSP director Col. Joseph Gasper and Lt. Aimee Brimacombe. Caldwell, who is represented by Pinckney Attorney James K. Fett, claims that he was demoted after he expressed concerns about diversity initiatives within the agency he believes resulted in the term “white male” taking on a negative connotation.
Among the incidents cited to back up that claim was an MSP Fall Forum held on October 8th, 2019 in which Col. Gasper reportedly said “the MSP ‘way too White and way too male’, and that if members were denied promotions for the sake of diversity they should think of the MSP first before themselves and knuckle under, i.e., take one for the team.”
Caldwell says he expressed opposition to superiors about the diversity initiative by stating that promotions should be based solely on merit and that as the agency was predominantly white, it was reasonable to expect that the majority of command staff would also be white. According to MSP records, approximately 90% of uniformed employees are white. Caldwell claims that he was later demoted to Inspector in retaliation for his opposition. He then filed a federal discrimination lawsuit in the Western District of Michigan.
However, in the course of discovery for that suit, a deposition was held this past March at Fett’s offices in Pinckney. One of those in attendance was Lt. Brimacombe, described as an attorney and client representative for the Michigan State Police. Caldwell alleges that during a recess in the deposition, and while Fett was out of the room, Lt. Brimacombe questioned him about his testimony. Fett tells WHMI that it was a “blatant violation of the ethics rules” to do so and that after it was placed on the record that she had done so, Lt. Brimacombe, according to the lawsuit, retaliated by filing a complaint against Caldwell with MSP Internal Affairs, alleging he had committed perjury, and that the complaint “was made out of malice, not out of duty.”
Lt. Brimacombe later testified that Caldwell’s characterization of their off-the-record conversation was “an absolute lie.” A request for charges and an arrest warrant against Caldwell was made following an Internal Affairs investigation, but the request was ultimately denied by the Livingston County Prosecutor’s Office.
The suit, which seeks in excess of $25,000, alleges that his demotion and the subsequent “False…Criminal Charges” were violations of Michigan’s Elliot-Larsen Civil Rights Act and the Michigan Constitution. Fett claims that the Internal Affairs investigation and subsequent charges were initiated “so they would have a chance to deny him a retirement in good standing.”
In response to the lawsuit, Shannon Banner, Manager of the MSP’s Public Affairs Section, told WHMI that “This is the most recent lawsuit filed in a case of ongoing litigation with this former employee. As with his initial lawsuit, the department denies his claims and fully plans to defend against them.”
Fett is also representing former Inspector R. Michael Hahn, MSP Sgt. Larissa LaMay and Lt. Michael McCormick in federal lawsuits that also allege discrimination based on their race.
Caldwell’s lawsuit has been assigned to Circuit Court Judge Suzanne Geddis, although no dates have been set.