Sheffield Lake police officer targeted by chief's racist prank says incident was part of pattern

photo of keith pool
Sheffield Lake police officer Keith Pool says he'd like recognition that the KKK prank he was subjected to is not acceptable behavior. [Law Office of Peiffer, Wolf, Carr, Kane and Conway]

The Sheffield Lake police officer who was the target of a racist “prank” by the town’s former police chief, Anthony Campo, said he plans to sue Campo and the city.

The officer, Keith Pool, was publicly identified for the first time Thursday during a virtual press conference with his attorneys from Peiffer Wolf Carr Kane & Conway.

In a first step toward filing a lawsuit, Pool’s attorneys filed a petition with the Ohio Supreme Court seeking the release of records they say the city is withholding. The attorneys have also filed a discrimination complaint with the state's civil rights commission.

“I feel it is important to raise my voice about this so that the city, the police department and police departments across the country understand that this racist, hateful conduct is completely unacceptable, period,” Pool said.

The incident occurred June 25 inside the Sheffield Lake Police Department building. Publicly released surveillance footage shows Campo flipping over Pool’s yellow police raincoat and placing a white piece of paper with the words Ku Klux Klan on the back, then leaving the room.

Shortly after that, Pool entered the room followed by Campo. The chief appeared to exchange words with Pool, whose back is to the camera and the camera only recorded video.

“My exact words were, ‘Are you serious?’ What else can you say to the chief of police who has just done something so heinous?” Pool said.

At the time, Pool was the only Black officer on the force, he said.

Mayor Dennis Bring placed Campo on leave after a July 29 complaint was filed with the police union. The same day, Campo resigned.

Bring did not respond to a request for comment from Ideastream Public Media.

Pool and his attorneys alleged other misconduct by Campo, including posting photos with racist captions on a station bulletin board and using a racist epithet while telling other city employees he would never hire a Black officer.

“It was just the first time he got caught on video,” Pool said. “And the city’s failure to turn over the public records documenting his misconduct makes me feel like they want to protect the ex-chief.”

According to Pool’s attorneys, none of those other incidents resulted in entries in Campo’s personnel file, which they have received from the city.

Pool remains an officer with the Sheffield Lake Police Department and said colleagues have been supportive since Campo’s departure.

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