Retired officer's son wins $378K lawsuit against HPD - FOX 26 News | MyFoxHouston

Retired officer's son wins $378K lawsuit against HPD

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HOUSTON (FOX 26) -

Lt. Manuel Zamora is making his final rounds with some of his closest colleagues.  After 31 years, he's retiring from the Houston Police Department.

"When I heard the verdict today, it was bitter sweet," Manuel said.

The verdict has everything to do with his son, Christopher Zamora.  He is also a Houston Police officer.

To understand the Zamoras' story, you need to go back to 2007.  That's when the elder Zamora and 30 Hispanic officers filed a lawsuit against HPD.  They claimed they were not promoted at HPD because they are Hispanic.

"Despite my education, I have a doctorate degree, all the leadership training, all the management training, and despite the totality of the characteristics I brought to the table, I was never selected.  I was never good enough," Manuel said.

The retiring officer said after he filed his lawsuit, his son became the victim of retaliation at HPD.  The rising law enforcement star was stripped of his prestigious position on the gang unit, his attorney, Kim Ogg, said.  She represented Christopher in the federal court case.

"My client began experiencing harassment at work and they complained of his poor performance, but they didn't properly document and they retaliated against him," Ogg said.

That's when the younger Zamora joined his father with the other Latino officers in the federal case against HPD.

As time moved on, many of the other officers' cases were either dropped or dismissed.  That includes Manuel Zamora's case, but his son's retaliation suit stood the test of time.  After five years, a jury awarded him $378,000 in his case against the police department for retaliation.

"What this particular case tells the city is that when people claim discrimination, you may not retaliate against them, even if you disagree and you may not retaliate against their family members," Ogg said.

In the meantime, Zemora, the father and now retired officer, said even though his case was dismissed, the victory by his son brings him some closure and justice.

"I found at least a resounding message has been sent to the police department and perhaps we should listen to that and make some change," said Zamora.  

The Houston City Attorney released this statement:

"We are disappointed in the verdict and do not believe it is supported by the evidence. We will ask the trial court for relief, and failing that, take it up on appeal to the Fifth Circuit. I am confident that the City will ultimately prevail."

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