Attorney: Tulsa Police Captain Is Being Punished For His Beliefs


Thursday, May 17th 2012, 10:05 pm
By: News On 6


Depositions from the Tulsa Police chief and a deputy chief were taken this week in a lawsuit filed by Tulsa police Captain Paul Fields against the City of Tulsa.

Fields sued after he was disciplined for refusing to order his officers to attend an event at the local mosque.

The lawsuit is set to go to trial in December.

Fields was suspended without pay for two weeks and has been assigned to the graveyard shift for the past year.

His attorneys said he's being punished for standing up for his beliefs.

"I find it very heartbreaking this happened to Captain Fields," said Erin Mersino, an attorney with Thomas More Law Center."

2/11/2011 Related Story: Documents Detail Tulsa Police Captain's Discipline For Refusing Order

The Thomas More Law Center is a nonprofit public interest law firm in Michigan that defends Christian values.

The Center is handling Fields' lawsuit.

They say Fields has been an exemplary officer in his more than 17 years on the job, and he is being punished for taking a stand.

"We teach children to never to do anything that you feel bad about," Mersino said. "He stood up and said, 'This breaches my religious beliefs, and this is wrong.'"

She said attending the Islamic Society's law enforcement appreciation day was initially a voluntary activity, but when not enough people signed up, Deputy Chief Daryl Webster sent a memo directing supervisors to attend.

Fields objected and refused.

"It was much more intrusive than going there for a piece of cake and a thank you," Mersino said.

She said officers would get tours, see a religious service and receive presentations on Islam. She says it was not a community policing event where officers were going to give a safety presentation.

She says Fields' objection was not about the Muslim faith, but about staying true to his own faith.

"This lawsuit is about a Christian who is standing up and saying he does not want to do something that violates his conscience," Mersino said. "He is not anti-Muslim in the slightest."

Fields, TPD Chief Chuck Jordan and Webster, along with a woman from the Islamic Society, all testified during depositions over the past two days.

The city attorney said because it is ongoing litigation, the city can't comment.

But it has said in the past the appreciation day was a community policing event, and officers are assigned to them all the time.