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Ex-Hempstead cop wins discrimination suit

Willie R. Dixon, until recently the second-in-command of the Hempstead Village police, has settled his discrimination lawsuit against the village and several officials for more than $545,000.

Dixon, who spent about 30 years on the force, has said village officials retaliated against him because he filed a federal lawsuit in August 2010. That complaint details alleged discrimination, dating back to 2003, against Dixon. He said he was unfairly treated because he is black and spoke against what he called racism in the force.

Dixon refiled the suit in June, dropping as defendants Nassau County and the district attorney, who had launched a criminal probe against him in 2009.

"It was a long hard fight, but what is right always comes out on top," Dixon, of Hempstead, said yesterday.

Under the settlement, Dixon will get a $425,000 lump-sum payment and a $120,803.66 increase in separation pay. His retirement status will change from lieutenant to assistant chief in "good standing," said Dixon's lawyer, Eric Sanders.

Dixon was appointed deputy chief in May 2007 and assistant chief in March 2008. He was not reappointed as assistant police chief when his contract expired on May 31, 2011, and was downgraded to lieutenant.

"I cannot discuss the matter at this point," Debra Urbano-DiSalvo, village attorney, said Wednesday.

Village officials said last June that Dixon's claims of discrimination on the force were "without any factual foundation, and the facts are to the contrary."

Dixon claimed village officials were upset because he refused to ask federal investigators to suspend an inquiry into the discovery of a noose in a station locker room in September 2007. The case is inactive pending new information or evidence, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office said.

Village officials have said they had assigned him to desk duty because of the district attorney's investigation. Dixon has said the inquiry was a "bogus burglary" case stemming from a 2008 incident in which he ordered two subordinates to enter an apartment and remove a barking dog. No charges were filed.

"Even though I have been vindicated, I am still very angry for the way I was treated and what they put my family through," Dixon said.

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