In Washington DC, a police officer got his day in court and won his lawsuit against the police department of the District of Columbia. Officer Joe Tridico had alleged that he had been harassed on a daily basis at the headquarters of the Sixth District. Tridico filed the lawsuit claiming that the police department had discriminated against him because of his military service and religion. A jury in federal court ruled in his favor.
Tridico is a white male veteran of the United States Marine Corps and a practicing Catholic. According to his attorney, Brian Markovitz, Tridico is tough, eschewing any criticism that his client is oversensitive. “He was in the Marine Corps Reserve and he’s a cop. But it was daily – being subjected to him day after day,” said a report by Fox 5 News.
Tridico told the court that one day he was praying before eating, and proceeded to make the sign of the cross – a regular practice for Catholic, Orthodox, and some Anglican Christians. The sergeant at the department shouted, “Look at him. That’s why he's so weird. He believes in that weirdo Jesus.” Court documents identified the officer accused of harassment as "Sgt. Nickerson." A roster of award-winning officers for 2003 identifies among them Officer Matthew Nickerson as the recipient of a Meritorious Service Medal. Also, according to court documents, the sergeant referred to Tridico as "psycho" and "killer" while deriding his military service. Persons at the Sixth District headquarter hung signs depicting Tridico as a "killer."
It was thereafter, stated Markovitz, that the harassment went into high gear. “It sort of morphed itself into a nickname for him, which became ‘weirdo’ and they just continually called him that, and that was a direction reference to his faith and it was triggered by him praying that time,” said Markovitz.
Harassment on the basis of Tridico’s religion did not end then. “At one point, they hung up a picture of the pope right next to his desk,” Tridico’s attorney said. “It was John Paul II and they put the word ‘weirdo’ over it.”
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