BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – A Buffalo Police captain has been suspended from the department. This comes just days after a civil lawsuit was filed against her in federal court — claiming she repeatedly made racist comments in front of Black police officers, and police higher-ups failed to address the problem.
“You bring these lawsuits to initiate change to also tell the department you can’t continue to do this and to ignore these type of complaints,” said Nate McMurray, the attorney who represents the officers and one Black clinician who are suing the department and Captain Amber Beyer.
The lawsuit says Beyer made hurtful racist comments in front of them and other officers and that police higher-ups did nothing about it for months.
“They complained said this needs to change and not only did they continue the bad behavior of this captain accelerated,” Beyer said.
In May of this year — the suit claims Beyer went on a 20-minute rant saying:
“Black men cheat on their wives more than white men,” and that “all the Black police officers she knows are unfaithful,” and that “white officers get PTSD from working in Black neighborhoods — like the East Side of Buffalo.”
The lawsuit goes on to say that Officer Brandon Hawkins, who has 15 years of experience started using vacation time to avoid working with Beyer and that she sent him text messages pressuring him to attend a crisis intervention conference. The suit says the clinician, Erica Seymour, resigned because she could not handle the environment and that Hawkins and the other officer Katelynn Bolden are on leave.
“She resigned after Ms. Beyer insisted on reading racist language out loud in their office and she said this is intolerable we have had enough of this,” McMurray said.
The plaintiffs say Beyer’s behavior was reported to Internal Affairs and that they’ve reported this to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. They’re seeking damages of $45 million claiming their civil rights were violated.
“It’s a calculation that’s based on their salary, their potential earnings throughout the life of their career and also their pension,” McMurray said, “Everything alleged in the lawsuit can be proved.”
A police spokesperson says Beyer has been suspended without pay. Two years ago, Beyer was named to oversee BPD’s Behavioral Health unit. Buffalo Police and the police union would not comment on the lawsuit, saying they don’t respond to pending litigation.
BPD’s Behavioral Health unit will now be overseen by deputy police commissioner of operations Al Wright.
Jeff Preval is an award-winning anchor and reporter who joined the News 4 team in December 2021. See more of his work here.