Police commander files suit against Pittsburgh claiming discrimination

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A Pittsburgh police commander sued the city, its mayor and much of the bureau command structure today, claiming that she has been denied promotional opportunities and reprimanded because she blew the whistle on administration activities in 2006.

Catherine McNeilly, the Zone 3 commander and a 36-year veteran of the bureau, alleged in 2006 that the city’s then-operations director, Dennis J. Regan, meddled in police affairs. He denied it, she was demoted to lieutenant, and she sued under whistleblower laws to obtain reinstatement to the rank of commander.

In the lawsuit by attorney Timothy O’Brien, Cmdr. McNeilly claims that she has since been denied any shot at promotion to assistant chief. The complaint also said she has faced “less favorable training opportunities and work assignments, poor performance reviews and general ostracization by other members of the Senior Command Staff.”

Cmdr. McNeilly also claimed that she was accused by Assistant Chief Maurita Bryant of allowing unprofessional conduct in her zone, and disciplined with a written reprimand when she disagreed with that assessment.

This has resulted in embarrassment, humiliation, emotional distress and damage to her reputation, plus economic losses, according to the complaint. She claims the city committed breach of contract and retaliation for her free speech.

“We haven’t received the complaint and so we haven’t had a chance to review it,” said city solicitor Daniel Regan. He said he was not familiar with the accusations.

Named as defendants are the city, Mayor Luke Ravenstahl, former police chief Nate Harper, acting Chief Regina McDonald, Deputy Chief Paul Donaldson and Assistant Chief Maurita Bryant.


Rich Lord: rlord@post-gazette.com, 412-263-1542 or on Twitter: @richelord.

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