Ithaca Police Department officer Christine Barksdale filed a federal lawsuit against the City of Ithaca on Feb. 4, citing a confidentiality violation when the city motioned to remove her as senior investigator in January 2020.
The lawsuit comes more than a year after an initial press release detailed Barksdale’s apparent neglect in investigating over 200 pending cases over the past decade, including a disproportionate number of cases related to sex offenses.
Though Barksdale remained unnamed at the time, her termination as senior investigator was soon made public through an Ithaca Voice article, causing what she saw as the City of Ithaca breaching its confidentiality policy. According to the lawsuit, the city has historically kept personnel matters private.
Many Ithaca residents decried Barksdale’s termination, citing her role as a mentor and community leader to many students as the first Black woman to serve in IPD. Last year, Ithaca College students filled a March 5 Common Council meeting to protest the proceedings.
Barksdale is seeking monetary damages for “past and future pain and suffering” as well as punitive damages against Mayor Svante Myrick ’09, IPD Chief Dennis Nayor and Deputy IPD Chief John Jolly. Furthermore, the lawsuit mentioned an “award of attorney fees” and an injunctive relief against the City of Ithaca.
The suit details the defamation and reputational damage that Barksdale faced as a result of the termination.
“Ms. Barksdale suffered a severe alteration of her status in the community and has been the subject of negative publicity, ridicule, harassment, and embarrassment as a result
of Defendant’s false, misleading and stigmatizing statement,” the suit read.
As the IPD continues to seek her termination, Barksdale currently remains employed by the police department. Barksdale is represented by Ithaca lawyer Ed Kopko, who represented her when the IPD first moved to terminate her in January 2020.
A date for the hearing has not been set yet. The case will be heard at the United States District Court for the Northern District of New York.