$540K judgment for Chicago cop in anti-Semitic harassment case


(JTA) — A Jewish Chicago police officer was awarded a $540,000 judgment against a former superior who allegedly taunted him for years with anti-Semitic and racist remarks.

On Monday, a federal jury found in favor of Detlef Sommerfield, a German-Jewish immigrant who had accused retired Chicago Police Sgt. Lawrence Knasiak of calling him a “f*cking Jew boy,” waving a swastika at him, and engaging in other harassing behavior while Knasiak was Sommerfield’s superior between 2000 and 2007, according to a report by the Chicago Sun-Times.

A spokesman for Chicago’s legal department told the Sun-Times that the city had been dismissed from the suit in 2009. That would leave Knasiak solely responsible for the judgment.

Previously, in 2012, a separate federal jury had awarded Sommerfield $30,000 in a discrimination case against the city of Chicago over the same incidents. According to a report by the Chicago Tribune, Sommerfield first complained about the harassment in 2004, but the Chicago Police Department did not investigate his claim until 2007. Sommerfield filed his lawsuits against Knasiak and the city in 2008, according to the Sun-Times.

Sommerfield was born in Germany in 1961, according to the Tribune, and one of his aunts was killed during the Holocaust.

Sommerfield’s lawyer, Joseph Longo, told the Sun-Times that Knasiak “was able to yell these remarks out in roll call with other sergeants and lieutenants and captains standing next to him.” He added, “Not just once or twice, but regularly, and nobody tells him to stop. I don’t understand that. It’s baffling.”

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