Monday, October 28, 2019

Missouri jury awards $19 million to police veteran Keith Wildhaber in employment-discrimination lawsuit where he was told to "tone down your gayness," in a case marred by blatant perjury from cop witnesses

Keith Wildhaber

A Missouri jury has awarded $19 million to a 24-year police-force veteran in an employment discrimination case where the plaintiff repeatedly was passed over for promotion and told to "tone down your gayness." Based on our research, that is an extraordinarily high award in an employment case, and according to new reports, jurors based it, in part, on what appeared to be flagrantly false statements under oath by police witnesses for the defense. St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Wesley Bell has vowed to review transcripts as part of a perjury investigation.

In many states, discrimination cases are heard in federal court, but Missouri has a Human Rights Commission that opens a path for such cases to be heard in state court.

As for possible perjury by police witnesses, that is an issue that hits close to home here at Legal Schnauzer. We saw multiple Greene County deputies lie under oath in the trial of bogus "assault on a law enforcement officer" charges brought against my wife, Carol, after they conducted an unlawful eviction on our home that ended with an unidentified officer slamming Carol to the ground and yanking so violently on her limbs he broke her left arm -- a comminuted fracture, which means the bone was broken in more than two places.

Audio evidence shows that Officer Scott Harrison clearly committed perjury in Carol's case. At least three other cop witnesses (Debi Wade, Jeremy Lynn, Christian Conrad) made statements under oath that were so wildly inconsistent from their written reports that they might also amount to perjury.

Scott Harrison
Keith Wildhaber, the plaintiff in the St. Louis County case, said he was passed over for promotion 23 times and called "fruity" and other derogatory terms by co-workers. From a report at KMOV in St. Louis:
[Last] Friday, a St. Louis County jury awarded $19 million dollars to a St. Louis County police sergeant who said the department repeatedly passed him over for promotions because he is gay.

Sgt. Keith Wildhaber filed a lawsuit against the St. Louis County Police Department in 2017 in which he claims he was told he should “tone down [his] gayness” if he ever wanted to be promoted to lieutenant.

Wildhaber has worked for the police department since 1994. The lawsuit details dozens of times where Wildhaber was passed over for a promotion despite positive feedback about his work performance.

The lawsuit details an incident in 2014 when Sgt. Wildhaber spoke to John Saracino, a member of the St. Louis County Board of Police Commissioners at the time, about his application for a promotion.

“The command staff has a problem with your sexuality. If you ever want to see a white shirt [i.e. get a promotion], you should tone down your gayness,” the lawsuit reads.

The discrimination lawsuit went to trial [last] week and on Friday, a jury awarded Wildhaber nearly $20 million. Multiple officers and Chief John Belmar took the stand in the trial. Now there are calls for changes in leadership in the police department.

Wildhaber, after filing his complaint, was transferred to a less desirable precinct, on a later shift, tripling his commute time. From the New York Daily News:

The week-long trial, which ended Friday, included testimony about several times Sgt. Keith Wildhaber was denied a promotion, about the use of demeaning, homophobic terms to refer to him, as well as the retaliation he faced, after filing a complaint.

Additionally, accounts from fellow department employees, who were witnesses to the discrimination he faced, made for a lively and dramatic Hollywood-like trial.

In about three hours of deliberation, the jury sided with Wildhaber on both the discrimination and retaliation counts. It awarded him $1.9 million in actual damages, and $10 million in punitive damages on the discrimination allegation; as well as $999,000 in actual damages and $7 million in punitive damages for the retaliation allegations.

“We wanted to send a message,” juror No. 4 said of the verdict, according to St. Louis Post-Dispatch “If you discriminate you are going to pay a big price. … You can’t defend the indefensible.”

What did the New York Daily News mean by a "dramatic Hollywood-like trial"? That apparently is a reference to one or more officers who got caught providing perjured testimony. From the Daily News account:

Wildhaber said he was passed over a promotion 23 times. After he filed an EEOC complaint, he alleges he was retaliated against and transferred to another, less desirable precinct.

“Defendant believes plaintiff’s behavior, mannerisms, and/or appearance do not fit the stereotypical norms of what a ‘male’ should be,” the lawsuit read.

In the trial, Dana Woodland, the girlfriend of an St. Louis police officer, corroborated his story, saying that he was referred to as “fruity” by police Capt. Guy Means in 2015, and added that Means told her that Wildhaber would never get a promotion because he was “way too out there with his gayness and he needed to tone it down if he wanted a white shirt.,” a term that refers to a higher position in the force.

Means testified Thursday claiming he didn’t even know Woodland, and said that he didn’t recall attending the 2015 event, when he had supposedly used the derogatory term to refer to Wildhaber.

The following day, in a scene that could’ve been written to a clich├ęd court drama, Woodland produced a set of three pictures showing Means and Woodland posing for a photo booth shoot, taken at a St. Louis County Police Welfare fund-raiser, where the two can be seen smiling and hugging.

Russ Riggan, Wildhaber's attorney, said Means' testimony destroyed any credibility police witnesses might have had. From a report at

Riggan told the jurors, “[Means] blatantly perjured himself.… How credible are the rest of their witnesses? You don’t think they sent other people in here to lie? They will stop at nothing to bury this case.”

Means' testimony shows that some cops will testify falsely under oath with stunning casualness. We already have seen that, thanks to Greene County deputy Scott Harrison in Carol's trial. From a September 2019 post:

Harrison's false statement under oath is one of several such statements cop-witnesses for the state made in Carol's trial. But Harrison's is the one we can prove -- right this minute, with no additional investigation or discovery -- is perjurious. Other deputies' sketchy statements generally were inconsistent -- their trial testimony differed from written statements in incident reports -- so it would take some research to determine what might rise to the level of perjury. Either way, they apparently committed perjury or filed false police reports, both of which are crimes. 
At least one statement from Harrison -- the deputy who burst into our apartment and pointed an assault rifle at my head during an unlawful eviction in September 2015 -- leaves no doubt. This is from page 3 of Judge Jerry Harmison Jr.'s judgment in Carol's case: (The judgment and Carol's Motion to Vacate Judgment That Was Procured by Fraud, Perjury, etc. are embedded at the end of this post.)

Harrison stated he initially focused on Roger Shuler once the front door was open because Roger Shuler had called and expressed threats to law enforcement on August 12, 2015.

We have recorded evidence that Harrison's statement is false, and we presented that evidence in a recent post, with more relevant posts to come. (The video/audio is embedded at the end of this post.)

Could one or more cop witnesses wind up behind bars for committing perjury in the Keith Wildhaber case? The answer appears to be yes. The same could hold true for Scott Harrison and at least three of his Greene County colleagues who made false or inconsistent statements in Carol's case.


Anonymous said...

$19 million! Now that's what I call a plaintiff-friendly jury.

Anonymous said...

That award seems out of whack compared to the recent medical-malpractice case in Alabama, where a young woman died and her family was awarded $9 million.

Anonymous said...

This award will be greatly reduced on appeal.

Anonymous said...

@11:16 --

Agreed. Or it will be reduced in a settlement to avoid an appeal.

Anonymous said...

Agree with @11:07. Somebody did quite a job of striking that jury.

Anonymous said...

The guy who lied under oath, I don't see how he has any defense if the prosecutor decides to bring a perjury charge.

Anonymous said...

Would the perjurer have gotten away with it if she hadn't had photos, if jurors only had her word to go on, against his?

legalschnauzer said...

@3:32 --

Excellent question. I'd say the answer is that a cop probably would have gotten away with it, without the photos. That's what makes this so delicious, that she had photos to prove he was scoundrel. Of course, it's so early that we don't know if the prosecutor actually will follow through on his vow to hold the guy accountable. I hope reporters will stay on top of this story.

Anonymous said...

The giant sucking sound you hear is the house-cleaning machine heading for that police department.

Anonymous said...

These lying cops are the same ones who can take the stand and give false testimony that sends innocent people to prison. Sickening.

Anonymous said...

What a surprise to learn that a police department is filled with homophobes.

Anonymous said...

How did the gay cop manage tow work in that godawful environment for 24 years?

Anonymous said...

Are these cops who lied on the stand in Carol's case the same ones who claimed Carol broke her own arm. -- as if it's possible to inflict a comminuted fracture on your own arm.

legalschnauzer said...

@6:32 --

Yep, same ones. Comminuted fractures are almost always caused by trauma, as in a car crash or physical violence. Impossible to do that to your own arm. But then again, these cops long ago proved they are ignorant.

Anonymous said...

I imagine most accused perjurers try the "my lie wasn't material" defense. In a lot of cases, that's probably about the only defense they have.

legalschnauzer said...

@8:34 --

Seems pretty clear that defense won't fly in the St. Louis case. We dealt with the "material" issue in an earlier post about Carol's case. This is from her Motion to Vacate:

Harrison’s statement clearly was false, with intent to deceive the court, and it was material. The other three cop-witnesses also testified in some fashion, via hearsay, about such threats from Roger Shuler, and two of them – Debi Wade and Jeremy Lynn – stated at trial that they were present for the Shulers’ eviction only because of a “threat” Roger Shuler never made and/or a 911 call he never placed. Carol Shuler wound up falsely accused of “assaulting” Jeremy Lynn, but he was only there because of Scott Harrison’s bogus 911 story. Debi Wade went on to falsely testify that Carol Shuler charged into her “like a bull” – a canard even prosecutors apparently did not believe because they did not charge Carol with it.

Also, Wade falsely testified that Carol flailed around in the back seat of a patrol car – even though Carol was seat-belted – suggesting Carol produced a comminuted fracture (broken in more than two places), a feat that likely is physically impossible and has never happened in human history. This was not a hairline fracture of the arm; it was about as bad a trauma-induced break as is found in medicine. Bottom line: The officer who falsely claimed Carol Shuler assaulted him and the officer who authored a bogus Probable Cause Statement on the subject were only present at the Shulers’ eviction because of Scott Harrison’s phony 911 story. It’s very likely Harrison’s perjury is the reason Carol Shuler was found guilty of an offense even the “victim” (Jeremy Lynn) admits she did not commit.

legalschnauzer said...

BTW, here are specifics about perjury law in Missouri:

How is perjury described under Missouri law? It can be found at RSMo 575.040, and Carol cites it in her Motion to Vacate:

Perjury is defined at RSMo. 575.040:

1. A person commits the crime of perjury if, with the purpose to deceive, he knowingly testifies falsely to any material fact upon oath or affirmation legally administered, in any official proceeding before any court, public body, notary public or other officer authorized to administer oaths;

2. A fact is material, regardless of its admissibility under rules of evidence, if it could substantially affect, or did substantially affect, the course or outcome of the cause, matter or proceeding;

3. Knowledge of the materiality of the statement is not an element of this crime, and it is no defense that:

(1) The defendant mistakenly believed the fact to be immaterial.

e.a.f. said...

good for this police officer! when some one steps up and takes action such as this justice can prevail. the jury is to be commended for doing their job. this sends a strong message that not only is harassment and discrimination wrong, but expensive for employers.

Having a Human Rights Commission or Tribunal always helps in these types of situations. It would be better for all Americans if each State had one and then a federal Human Rights Commission,

In Canada we have human rights commissions and tribunials. they are easy for people to access and they are able to receive a measure of justice.

congratulations to the jury and the police officer.

Now lets see what the police dept. does regarding the perjury by other police officers. Usually people in positions of trust who violate that trust, get fired. I'd suggest there could be openings in this police dept.