A Hennepin County jury has found that a police officer at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport was thwarted from several promotions because he reported the inappropriate behavior of another officer to his supervisors.
Officer Bradley Wingate sued the Metropolitan Airports Commission (MAC) in 2018, citing a Minnesota law that protects whistleblowers. The MAC, which owns and operates the airport, maintains a police force of about 100 officers.
A jury of four men and two women in Hennepin County District Court deliberated for more than four hours Friday before returning the verdict, which calls for the MAC to pay $150,000 in damages for emotional distress and lost wages, as well as an estimated $300,000 in attorneys' fees.
Wingate's attorney, Lucas Kaster of Minneapolis, said his client was "elated" about the verdict.
"He is a long-term employee who performed admirably and stood up for what is right," Kaster said.
Wingate, of Woodbury, was hired by the MAC in 2005.
The case explored several incidents beginning in 2010 involving another officer, Roby Desubijana, who allegedly photographed Wingate and others on at least two occasions undressing in the department locker room, according to court documents.
One photo taken by Desubijana of an officer leaving the shower at work was allegedly posted on a private YouTube channel, before supervisors told him to remove it. On other occasions, Desubijana distributed in the workplace "photo-shopped pornographic" images of officers, and once showed a "sexually explicit" part of a movie during roll call, records state.
Wingate testified that he notified supervisors about Desubijana several times, but the behavior continued. When he complained in 2013, Desubijana was suspended for five days without pay. Wingate also contacted the MAC's Human Resources department, which suspended Desubijana two more days without pay, according to court documents.
Throughout this period, Wingate applied for several promotions to sergeant. Although he received positive performance reviews, he was never promoted, including in 2017, when he received the top ranking in the department, according to court testimony.
"There was nothing unusual about any of these processes," said MAC attorney Kerry Middleton, in closing arguments. "Just because you're a good cop doesn't mean you'll be a good manager."
Desubijana was promoted to sergeant in 2012, and he continues to work for the department. He could not be reached for comment Monday.
MAC spokesman Patrick Hogan said Friday, "We thank the jury for their work. We are disappointed with the verdict and will consider our options."