Former RRHA Police Chief files lawsuit against tight-lipped agency

Posted at 5:03 PM, Feb 19, 2014
and last updated 2014-02-19 20:08:31-05

RRHA Police Chief Hal HazeltonRICHMOND, Va. (WTVR)–Hal Hazelton, the former tenured Police Chief for the Richmond Redevelopment and Housing Authority (RRHA) filed a lawsuit Tuesday against the agency that placed him on sudden and unexplained leave.

The defendants are Adrienne Goolsby, CEO, Michelle Waller, the agency’s lawyer, and Karen Jones, the Human Resources Administrator at RRHA.

CBS 6 first reported this story in September 2013, when Hazelton was suddenly placed on administrative leave on a weekend night, and received the information by phone.

Despite frequent attempts, leadership at the agency remained silent as to why their veteran chief with 13 years on the job so hastily departed, and was officially terminated almost a month after being put on leave, on Oct. 23.

Goolsby remained silent on the issue and gave no reason about why the agency’s top law enforcer is no longer coming to work.

Details eventually surfaced about Hazelton’s removal, with an email obtained by CBS 6 that documents Hazelton’s contact with several RRHA board members just days before he was put on leave.

rrhaletter2Hazelton wrote that he was disgusted and angry after the recent firing of one of his officers. That officer claimed racism played a role in his dismissal.

Hazelton goes beyond the single incident to say,”I am no longer going to tolerate this activity in this agency and am prepared to do whatever it takes.”

Hazelton then asks the members to remove RRHA’s leadership saying he’s prepared to go outside his department to protect employees from “a leader who has obviously lost control.”

Hazelton expressed more concern about management targeting certain employees including himself for termination, and he referenced a sort of  “hit list.”

He then attached a few emails from co-workers concerned about corruption and unfair treatment.

The email was sent shortly before two that afternoon. It would be just four hours later that Hazelton would learn by phone that he had been placed on leave.

In the weeks that followed CBS 6 pressed RRHA leadership for an explanation, each time being told that Hazelton’s case was a personnel matter and would not be addressed.

Hazelton served  with the RRHA for 13 years, and he’s an Air Force veteran who formerly worked with the Capitol Police.