Officer A.J. Torres filed his complaint with the state civil rights commission on February 8, 2022. The filing with the commission is a step required by state law before filing an employment discrimination lawsuit.
At a news conference Tuesday in Sheffield Lake, Ohio, Torres’ attorney Kevin Conway said the officer was regularly harassed by Campo due to his religion and race. Torres said he is a “devoted Catholic” and should not have to hide his religion at work.
“I don’t put away my nationality and my heritage when I come to work, I shouldn’t have to hide my religion either,” Torres said.
Attorney Ashlie Case Sletvold, who also represents Torres, said Campo placed a picture of Torres with two children, taken while on a missionary trip, adding a speech bubble that implied Torres was a pedophile, on a police department bulletin board. The bulletin board was one that all officers were required to check daily for “daily reports and logs as well as other departmental orders and publications,” according to Torres’ rebuttal to the city’s comments, and Campo left the image there for months. Sletvold also said that Campo allegedly repeatedly mocked Torres for not working Sundays due to his religious beliefs and placed a picture of Torres on an image of a priest. Torres’ attorneys also say in a separate incident, Campo placed an image of Torres on a picture of a bottle of salsa picante hot sauce and placed it on a police bulletin board.
According to a letter from the city’s attorneys obtained by CNN from the attorneys for the officers following Tuesday’s presser, the city of Sheffield Lake does not dispute Campo’s conduct was “perhaps inappropriate and in poor taste,” however the city maintains that the former chief’s actions were “not so offensive to the reasonable person that it would materially affect the terms and consequences of employment.” The city’s attorneys also said Campo denies harassing Torres about his religion but admits to making and posting the images Torres and his attorneys allege, according to those documents.
CNN has reached out to the Ohio Civil Rights Commission for reaction to these new allegations. CNN has not been able to reach Campo.
In June 2021, Campo was seen on video placing a Ku Klux Klan label over the police insignia on a Black officer’s raincoat. In the video, officer Keith Pool, the department’s only Black officer at the time, was seen then entering the room and appearing to laugh after seeing the raincoat. Pool’s attorneys say Campo then encouraged others to view his actions and proceeded to parade around the office with a KKK hat and said Pool would have to wear the hat on his next call. According to CNN affiliate WOIO, Sheffield Mayor Dennis Bring says Pool told him he only laughed given the uncomfortable position he was put in by the chief’s prank.
Pool subsequently filed an employment discrimination complaint.
“It was so demeaning that in the moment I just didn’t know how to react to it. I felt like I’d been hit with a sledgehammer,” Pool told reporters in a press conference when he detailed his complaints against the former police chief last year.
Shortly after the incident, Campo was asked by the city’s mayor to turn in his badge and keys and the mayor announced Campo’s retirement after, according to CNN affiliates. In an interview with CNN affiliate WEWS, Campo claimed his actions seen in the video were “a joke that got out of hand.” Torres said Tuesday that everything the former chief put him and Pool through wasn’t a joke and Campo’s alleged racist and anti-Catholic attacks hurt.