Former Portsmouth Police Chief Angela Greene is suing the City of Portsmouth and Senator Louise Lucas (D-Portsmouth), along with several other civic leaders and current and former city officials. Former City Manager Lydia Pettis-Patton placed Greene on leave in the wake of a June protest at the Portsmouth monument that led to Greene’s department filing felony charges, later dropped, against Lucas. Greene was finally terminated in November. Her lawsuit bundles multiple complaints against multiple figures.
“Angela Greene filed a lawsuit this morning seeking damages for being wrongfully terminated as the Chief of Police from the City of Portsmouth, and for being defamed professionally and personally,” Greene’s lawyer Thomas Plofchan said in a Friday statement. “Ms. Greene’s lawsuit names as Defendants the City of Portsmouth, former City Manager Lydia Patton, interim City Manager LaVoris Pace, City Council Member Lisa Lucas-Burke, State Senator L. Louise Lucas, and Milton R. Blount.”
He continues, “Ms. Greene’s seven-count Verified Complaint includes claims for wrongful termination (both retaliation for refusing to obey an illegal order and retaliation for complying with Virginia law), tortious interference with a contract/business expectancy, and gross negligence. Ms. Greene has also asserted claims of defamation per se against Blount, Lucas, and Lucas-Burke, for their blatantly false factual assertions regarding Ms. Greene’s conduct as Chief of Police.”
“Greene was terminated in retaliation for her refusal to abide by unlawful directives from Patton and [City Attorney Solomon Ashby] to not investigate the monument incident,” Greene’s lawsuit states.
Greene’s lawsuit alleges that Lucas defamed her in interviews with media. “At no time did Greene abdicate her responsibility to maintain peace or fail to uphold the law and file ‘racist’ charges,” the lawsuit states. “The allegations of racism against Greene are especially defamatory as Greene is African American and the false statements assert that Greene, a sworn neutral officer, compromised her obligations and investigated people on account of their race.”
Pettis-Patton and Ashby were also ousted as part of the fallout surrounding the June incident. Ashby sued Mayor John Rowe for defamation in October, but this week a judge ruled that Rowe’s comments about Ashby’s termination were not defamatory, according to 13NewsNow. On Friday, Angel Jones was sworn in as the new city manager, replacing interim Manager Pace, according to Wavy.com.
Although Greene’s termination and Ashby’s termination are both part of Portsmouth’s summer 2020 upheaval, Greene’s termination and subsequent lawsuit are not linked to Ashby’s defamation claims. When Greene was fired in November, she and Plofchan indicated that they were pursuing legal action. Since then, Greene has been hired as the Chief of Police for the City of Lexington, with help from the Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police.
“We had a strong group of qualified applicants for the Lexington police chief position, and reviewed them with great scrutiny to find the best candidate for Lexington police chief,” VACP Executive Director Dana Schrad said in an April press release. “Chief Greene is a highly skilled law enforcement professional, and will be a tremendous asset for the department and for the community. We’re extremely pleased that she will be the next Lexington police chief.”
City manager Jim Halasz said in the release, “Ms. Angela Greene, who has had a long career, in law enforcement, in the cities of Richmond and Portsmouth, made her way to the top of my list and I am thrilled that Angela will be joining our City team and the community, as our next Chief of Police.”
Plofchan told The Star that the defendants in Greene’s lawsuit now have the opportunity to respond; after that the case will go to discovery.
– – –