Wyandotte County District Attorney Mark Dupree has made a huge point of investigating police for alleged misconduct. But a new lawsuit claims he wanted to keep an investigation of his own “toxic” department internal.
After a gay Native American employee of Dupree’s Conviction Integrity Unit last year complained of repeated discrimination and harassment – as well as disturbing statements by colleagues about minorities, the gay and lesbian community, transgender people, those with diabilities and the unemployed – Dupree allegedly decided his department would investigate itself.
“The CIU’s culture was toxic, discriminatory, and hostile,” says a lawsuit against Dupree’s office and the Unified Government of Wyandotte County and Kansas City, Kansas filed by former CIU investigator Aaron Circle Bear.
Yet, the lawsuit alleges he was told that Dupree’s district attorney’s office “would be investigating the complaint against itself, which caused Plaintiff great concern that it would be difficult for a fair and objective investigation to take place when the office Plaintiff complained about was investigating itself.”
If true, that would be in naked contrast to Dupree’s oft-stated mission to investigate alleged police misconduct as an alternative to police agencies policing themselves.
In fact, Dupree once wrote in a press release soliciting citizen complaints against police officers that, “The Wyandotte County District Attorney’s Office believes that transparency and trust should be at the center of every Wyandotte County law enforcement agency. To further promote these values in our community, citizens now can voice any complaints of Wyandotte County law enforcement to an independent investigative branch in the District Attorney’s Office.”
As part of his pursuit of allegations of police misconduct, Dupree even renamed his Conviction Integrity Unit the “Community” Integrity Unit – to reflect his decision to have his CIU investigate not just wrongful convictions, but other law enforcement agencies too.
In the case of Circle Bear, however, Dupree’s office decided to investigate itself.
His CIU nonetheless imploded. Circle Bear’s lawsuit claims that, despite his complaints of racial, sexual and religious discrimination and harassment, he was fired May 11, 2021 by Dupree for a lack of “compatibility” in the unit.
Then, two other employees of the unit were fired after recordings made by Circle Bear were released to UG human resources and the news media containing comments, allegedly by his colleagues, that disparaged racial and sexual minorities and others. The lawsuit notes that, in many cases, those groups were “the very people the CIU was supposed to help.”
The two employees’ termination wasn’t made public by Dupree until his being questioned by KCTV5, the station said.
One of the conversations recorded in Dupree’s CIU, reports KCTV5, “blames the NAACP for Blacks claiming systematic racism”:
“And now you have a generation of complete sh*tbags who are sh*tbags to the core.
Who are out doing sh*tbag things and are like ‘I’m black you can’t do nothing to me.’
It’s like, nah b*tch you a sh*tbag!
It’s so ridiculous because like you look at the Jews, and what happened to the Jews, right?
You don’t see no Jews walking down the street saying, ‘Holocaust this than the other’ right?
They don’t do it!
They got over it.”