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KFDM's Angel San Juan learns PAPD sergeant pursuing legal action against the city

More upheaval developing in the Port Arthur Police Department.

Less than a week after the chief resigned, KFDM/FOX 4 is learning a police sergeant is pursuing legal action against the city.

Sergeant Cory Cole has filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission accusing the City of Port Arthur of discrimination.

Cole, who has been with the police force for more than a decade, says he was demoted because he's white.

"Give me an opportunity to transfer this department, I'm really looking forward to it."

In April of 2017, Officer Cory Cole saw his promotion to Deputy Chief as an uplifting moment, not just for him, but for the City of Port Arthur.

"Really, that's what it's about, just helping people," said Cole.

Less than a year later. Chief Patrick Melvin demoted Cole back to the rank of Sergeant.

According to Cole's lawyer, Clayton Craighead, Melvin did so under pressure from city council and City Manager Harvey Robinson.

Cole filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission alleging discrimination...

Craighead says race played a factor in his client's demotion, claiming some on city council wanted Chief Melvin to promote "someone of color to Deputy Chief."

During a city council meeting in February, Mayor Pro Tem Cal Jones expressed a similar sentiment, but this time targeting the Port Arthur Fire Department.

"In all that time, I've never seen, if I'm wrong correct me, a minority in the command staff," said Cal Jones at the time.

Fire Chief Larry Richard told council there are minorities who are Captains, but Jones remained unsatisfied with the racial makeup in the top leadership ranks.

"You see the makeup of the city and come see the firefighters' makeup, doesn't represent Port Arthur to me," said Cal Jones at the time.

Sergeant Cole believes a focus on race and not qualifications led to his short tenure as Deputy Chief.

City Attorney Val Tizeno declined comment on Cole's complaint, saying there would be no statement from city hall pending an EEOC investigation.

If the Commission sends Cole a right to sue letter, it means the EEOC has determined there are grounds for a discrimination claim.

In the meantime, Sergeant Cole says he'll continue to protect and serve his community.

According to Port Arthur's city charter, it's a violation for city council members to interfere in personnel matters and they cannot instruct the city manager on who to hire or fire.

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