WPPD lieutenant sues city after being passed over for promotion

DTL Editor

A lieutenant with the West Point Police Department has filed a discrimination lawsuit in federal court against the city, claiming he was unjustly passed over for a promotion in favor of a much younger officer.

While the civil lawsuit was initially filed by WPPD Lieutenant Jimmy Birchfield in late July in Clay County Circuit Court, a Notice of Removal was filed Tuesday moving the case to federal court for the Northern District of Mississippi in Aberdeen.

According to court documents, the city was served with original complaint on July 29.

Birchfield, 54, says in the filings that he has worked for 23 years as an officer in the WPPD, working six years as an investigator. During this time, his legal counsel claims he was a “skilled, diligent and ‘by-the-book’ investigator,” according to those that worked with him.

The complaint goes on to claim that on or about Aug. 17, 2018, the city of West Point promoted then 21-year-old Raven Ross to a detective position, despite Birchfield applying for the same job.

Birchfield’s legal counsel goes on to refer to Ross as an “inexperienced female.”

He then claims the city’s reasoning for Birchfield not receiving the promotion was because he has previously been “removed” as an investigator, which he says was at the the request of the new police chief at the time, Tim Brinkley.

Brinkely allegedly told Birchfield he was being removed as an investigator because he was needed in the patrol division, supposedly “because of his skill.”

Brinkley retired as police chief in 2017.

The complaint then turns its focus to Ross, who Birchfield claims “bragged about her close relationship with Assistant Chief [Kennedy] Meaders, has meals with Meaders, and exchanges text messages with him.

Brichfield further states he was informed by the city of West Point that he was not given the position for “subjective reasons,” claiming Ross’ interview was superior.

“Ross has stated before her being promoted that she did not care who knew how close she was to Meaders, and that she would be getting a detective position, despite her lack of experience, despite her lack of experience,” the complaint adds. “Ross’s being an attractive, young female was a substantial factor in her receiving the deceptive position.”

Another complaint hurled at Ross involved social media posts deemed inappropriate in which she made a joke about older citizens during the “feeling cute challenge,” in addition to Birchfield claiming she “has revealed confidential investigation information concerned a writer at the West Point Daily Times Leader who had written an article critical of her social media posts.”

After a story was published about the social media posts in May, Ross approached the reporter, saying, “Don’t put my picture in the paper.”

When the reporter responded that he didn’t have a choice, Ross responded, “It’s my picture, I have a say in where it goes.”

After a further exchange, she added, “If you print that picture, we’re going to have a problem.”

Both West Point Mayor Robbie Robinson and Police Chief Avery Cook declined to comment due to the ongoing nature of the lawsuit.

Birchfield is represented by Tupelo-based attorney Jim Waide.

He is requesting actual damages in an amount to be determined by a jury, in addition to declaratory and injunctive relief promoting him to detective.