PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — The trial started today in federal court for the Pittsburgh Police officer who is suing the city, claiming her civil rights were violated.
In 2013, Officer Tonya Montgomery-Ford was suspended with pay. It was one day after former Pittsburgh Police chief Nate Harper resigned as the FBI investigated possible corruption in the police bureau.
“We plan to move forward and restore the integrity and professionalism of the bureau of police,” said Regina McDonald, the former acting Pittsburgh Police chief, back in February of 2013.
Harper later pleaded guilty to stealing money from a city account.
Montgomery-Ford was never implicated, but she worked with Harper in the department and they were business partners outside of the force.
Montgomery-Ford was off the job for three years. The city paid her $190,000 while the FBI investigated.
She says she’s also entitled to more than $113,000 in back pay for overtime she could’ve made.
“She was suspended with basically half of her pay, was willing to go back any day she wanted,” said Sam Cordes, Montgomery-Ford’s attorney. “Any day they called, she would have gone back. The way we know that is she’s filed suit to get back.”
Last month, Montgomery-Ford got a letter, telling her the investigation was over, and she should go back to work.
It read: “The investigations that led to you being placed on administrative leave are completed. You are hereby directed to return to work.”
She says no one ever explained why she was suspended in the first place. She says she was being punished for cooperating with the FBI.
She claims the city violated the state’s whistleblower law and her civil rights by suspending her.