Former Mount Dora cop sues over hostile work environment

St. Francis Smith claims civil rights were violated in forced resignation

By Erik Sandoval - Reporter

MOUNT DORA, Fla. - A former Mount Dora police officer filed a lawsuit in federal court Wednesday, claiming the department discriminated against him and violated his civil rights.

St. Francis Smith claimed in his lawsuit that he was the only African American member of the Mount Dora Police Department SWAT team, and he claimed his trouble with the department started in March of 2018.

According to the lawsuit, Smith filed a complaint against Police Chief John O'Grady alleging a hostile work environment.

The lawsuit claims the chief retaliated, "charged him with committing insubordination," and "accused Smith of being mentally unstable because of his complaints of racial discrimination."

Smith claims O'Grady ordered him to be put on administrative leave until he was cleared by a psychological evaluation.

The lawsuit claimsSmith was "singled out and accused of violating policy," but it claims "the policy violated was never identified."

Smith said he "was forced and coerced into signing a resignation letter to protect his privacy."

The lawsuit came three months after the city of Mount Dora fired O'Grady for misconduct after an internal investigation.

The chief investigator said the investigation revealed other workers' claims that "O'Grady misused his position to cause anxiety and fear."

As a result, the city required the entire department to undergo sensitivity training.

In the lawsuit, Smith seeks back pay and compensatory damages.

When asked for their reaction, Mount Dora city leaders said they do not comment on open lawsuits.
 

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