The top cop for the Oakland public schools allegedly called a black officer a "n----r" who "should be hung in the town square," according to the attorney for another officer who claimed to hear the remark.
Peter Sarna II, the police chief for the Oakland Unified School District, then tried to intimidate the black officer, according to the lawyer, Joseph O'Sullivan.
O'Sullivan represents a white officer who filed a complaint against Sarna, who is also white. Sarna's wife is black, according to O'Sullivan.
O'Sullivan said his client was driving home from the Sequoyah Country Club in Oakland with Sarna and two other officers, one who was black, the other Asian, when Sarna began his alleged rant.
Sarna allegedly turned to the black officer, who lives in Orinda, and said that he had no right to live in Orinda because he was a "n----r" and that “he should be hung in the town square” and that “he was the last n----r that he would ever hire,” O'Sullivan said.
O’Sullivan said Sarna then threatened the other officers in the car, saying he “could kill them all if he wanted.”
The black officer responded, "I thought this was 2011,” O’Sullivan said.
O'Sullivan said Sarna continued to use racial epithets against the other officers, at one point asking O'Sullivan's client, “When are you going to have some N-word kids?”
The black officer told O’Sullivan's client that Sarna took him for a ride several days later and said, "That thing that happened did not happen."
O'Sullivan's client then filed a complaint against Sarna with the head of the school district's legal department. Sarna was placed on paid administrative the next day, Aug. 5, according to Troy Flint, a district spokesman.
Sarna did not immediately return a message left at his home requesting comment.
In filing his complaint with the district, O’Sullivan’s client asked that the district keep his name confidential. But O’Sullivan said Sarna quickly found out and marched into his client's office, asking, "Why did you file a complaint against me?"
O'Sullivan said his client and the other officers did not see any humor in Sarna's alleged comments. He added that his client is fearful that the district will retaliate against him for reporting the incident.
Flint said the district's legal department is investigating the allegations. He said this is the first complaint it has received about Sarna. Flint added that the district had not taken any disciplinary actions against Sarna since he was hired in 2009. Flint declined to elaborate further, citing confidentiality rules surrounding personnel matters under the California Public Records Act.
In 2007, Sarna resigned as deputy director of the Division of Law Enforcement at the California Department of Justice after being cited in a drunken driving crash involving a state-owned vehicle.
Sarna's annual salary is $121,000. He oversees the district's 13 police officers. The San Francisco Chronicle first reported that the district placed Sarna on paid leave.