A former Oakwood police officer has filed a federal lawsuit against the city, alleging he was fired in violation of his rights as an active-duty soldier.
U.S. Army National Guard Staff Sgt. James D. Youngblood was fired July 2 from the Oakwood Police Department soon after the Iraq veteran received word that he would be deployed to Afghanistan. Oakwood Police Chief Randall Moon told Youngblood the firing stemmed from a probationary period, according to a lawsuit filed by Youngblood last month in U.S. District Court.
The suit alleges that Youngblood’s firing was in "blatant violation" of the federal Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Act. The law prevents employers from discriminating against employees due to their service in the military.
However, Youngblood’s suit documents a number of instances in which he was reprimanded by supervisors.
Youngblood was suspended without pay for two days and placed on six months probation after his supervisors said he failed to collect crucial information in a forgery complaint, according to the suit. Youngblood was alleged to have identified the wrong person as a crime victim and never corrected the information, according to the suit.
Youngblood was also written up for locking the keys inside his take-home patrol car.
In January, Youngblood was called up by the Georgia Army National Guard for predeployment training at Camp Shelby in Mississippi, where he injured his knee and was placed on medical hold orders, according to the suit.
The following April, after being out of work for four months without benefits, he told police supervisors he could not attend a city court hearing on doctor’s orders to keep his leg stationary.
Youngblood returned to work in May 2009. He alleges in the lawsuit that he was wrongly accused by superiors of sending harassing text messages to another officer and that two supervisors were "constantly rude" to him.
In June, Youngblood was reprimanded by a supervisor for taking a speed detection device home with him and ordered to bring it back to the department immediately, according to the lawsuit.
Youngblood said he received word in late June that he would be required to report for active duty by early July to replace a soldier killed in Afghanistan.
He asked for two nights off to "get his affairs in order and spend some time with his wife," according to the lawsuit.
He was told by police supervisors he would not receive time off without official U.S. military orders, according to the suit.
One superior allegedly told Youngblood to "go ask the lieutenant colonel" about the workings of military leave, a reference to Oakwood City Manager and Iraq veteran Stan Brown, according to the suit.
Youngblood was fired shortly afterward.
The lawsuit seeks for Youngblood to be reinstated as a police officer and to recover unspecified damages and attorney fees.
Moon and Oakwood City Attorney Donnie Hunt did not immediately return messages seeking comment Thursday.