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Mar 05,2008
Jury: Fire captains punished too harshly
by UPI

LOS ANGELES - A jury has awarded two white Los Angeles fire captains a total of $1.6 million because they were punished more harshly than a Hispanic for a racist prank.

The case has already been an expensive one for the city. The city settled with a black firefighter, Tennie Pierce, for $2.7 million after dog food was mixed into his spaghetti.

Jurors decided on Monday that the two captains, Chris Burton and John Tohill, received unfair treatment, the Los Angeles Daily News reported. Burton, who commanded the firehouse where the prank occurred in 2004, was suspended for 30 days, while Tohill, who bought the dog food but said he did not know its purpose, was suspended for 24 days.

"It was the administration that seemed eager to throw Capt. Burton and Capt. Tohill to the wolves in terms of their careers," Heather Howe, a member of the jury, said.

Martin Noriega, the jury foreman, said that city polices were unclear.

The firefighter who put the dog food in Pierce's food received a six-day suspension.

© 2008 United Press International. All Rights Reserved.

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