Miami Gardens - Opa-locka

The officer said her police chief asked her to meet at a strip club. Now, she’s suing him

Then-Miami Gardens Police Chief Antonio Brooklen talks with members of the community, Antquon Harris and Pastor Wendell Baskin, during a ‘Coffee with a cop on the block’ event. Brooklen, who resigned as chief in September 2016, was sued Thursday, Jan. 4, 2018, by a former police officer in the department, Kalicia Battle, who alleges she was forced to resign after rejecting sexual advances by Brooklen.
Then-Miami Gardens Police Chief Antonio Brooklen talks with members of the community, Antquon Harris and Pastor Wendell Baskin, during a ‘Coffee with a cop on the block’ event. Brooklen, who resigned as chief in September 2016, was sued Thursday, Jan. 4, 2018, by a former police officer in the department, Kalicia Battle, who alleges she was forced to resign after rejecting sexual advances by Brooklen. Miami Herald file photo

Former Miami Gardens police officer Kalicia Battle kept her promise.

In September 2016, Miami Garden’s then-police chief Antonio Brooklen resigned. Just days before he stepped down, Battle’s attorney filed a letter of intent to sue the city, vaguely mentioning that it would be related to sexual harassment and discrimination because Battle is openly gay.

On Thursday, Battle filed a 24-page employment-discrimination complaint against the city of Miami Gardens, detailing various sexual harassment allegations against the former police chief, federal court records show.

According to the complaint, Battle, now 26, was forced to resign from the Miami Gardens police department after she rejected sexual advances made by Brooklen. The lawsuit, first reported by Miami New Times, also says she was forced to work nothing but night shifts after refusing to participate in a sexual relationship with Brooklen.

“From the very first day Chief Brooklen laid eyes on 25-year-old Kalicia Battle, she became the object of his unsolicited affection — at least one of the objects, as she would soon find out,” the lawsuit says.

Brooklen at the time was having an extramarital sexual relationship with Battle’s girlfriend, fellow officer Kimberly McDonald, the suit says.

Brooklen often called and texted Battle, insisting on hanging out in person. In one instance, Battle says Brooklen sent her a text that read “Are you drunk … can I see you … I can come get you now.”

In another instance, Brooklen insisted that Battle meet him in person to talk about “the hiring process,” at a strip club, Tootsies Cabaret. That night, Brooklen — out of uniform and dressed in a suit, told her to park her vehicle in the private garage adjacent to the strip club and walked her in through a private back entrance up to a private suite overlooking the main stage.

It was that evening when Brooklen made his first unsolicited physical contact with Battle, as he kissed her on the cheek, according to the suit. One of his next moves? Groping Battle’s legs and chest in the parking lot of the Miami Gardens police station, it said.

“He would regularly threaten to get [Battle] in trouble and ‘joke’ that she didn’t want to go back to working as a security guard,” the complaint said.

Brooklen did not respond to calls from the Miami Herald on Friday. In 2009, he was demoted from major to captain after an internal affairs investigation and allegations of sexual harassment. He also received a 30-day unpaid suspension that same year after he was found to have an “intimate personal relationship” with a former employee, the Herald has reported.

The lawsuit focused on an incident that happened in 2016.

“Ms. Battle’s forced resignation was Chief Antonio Brooklen’s attempt at covering up a minor incident which involved his lover, Officer McDonald, and her girlfriend, Ms. Battle, which occurred on April 18, 2016,” the lawsuit said. “Ample evidence exists showing that Chief Brooklen’s cover-up conspiracy included, but was not limited to: official misconduct, witness tampering, and tampering with evidence, including by coercing his lover/subordinate at the department to destroy crucial evidence.”

In the complaint, Battle claims she was unlawfully detained and interrogated after passing by her girlfriend’s house and seeing an unmarked car parked outside. McDonald — visually nervous — opened the door. Battle asked her if Chief Brooklen was inside. McDonald was speechless.

That’s when a mutual friend and Opa-locka police officer, Simon Lowery, who was off-duty at the time, came outside.

Later that day, Battle arrived at the station and was stripped of her badge and weapon. When asked if it had anything to do with her interactions with Brooklen, a sergeant and a commander “responded with threats of incarceration if she ever mentioned anything about her relationship with Chief Brooklen,” the complaint said.

The duo even placed an orange jumpsuit at the corner of the desk and read her her Miranda rights, telling her she was facing charges of stalking, armed burglary and battery, the suit said.

During interrogation, officers denied Battle’s request to record the questioning. Later on, police forced Battle to give up her cellphone and delete all her text messages with Brooklen. Once that was done, all her personal belongings were placed in a box and she was driven home by another officer.

The next day, Battle was informed by one of the officials from the night she was interrogated that McDonald had filed a restraining order against her. Later on, that order was dropped after Battle’s father — a Broward Sheriff’s Office deputy — got involved, the suit says.

Brooklen later forced Battle to resign and interfered with her hiring process in Broward and Key Biscayne, the suit says.

Brooklen had been chief for a little more than a year, stepping in on an interim basis in February 2015, after the arrest of former chief Stephen Johnson in a Broward Sheriff’s prostitution sting. He was appointed to the permanent position in November 2015.

In his resignation letter to City Manager Cameron Benson in September 2016, Brooklen said he wanted to be closer to family and his sick mother.

“The last few months have been challenging because I have been dealing with my mother’s fragile health condition and I feel that my attention is needed elsewhere,” Brooklen wrote. “At this time, my family must come first. My mother, wife and children are my heart and I live for them.”

Monique O. Madan: 305-376-2108, @MoniqueOMadan

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