Houston Sues Firefighters Over Racial Slur Issues


Local 2 Investigates is digging deeper into a city of Houston lawsuit against its own firefighters.

The city is suing three Houston Fire Department firefighters. They were accused of using a racial slur while on duty, but then they won their jobs back. So why is the city still suing them?

Those firefighters can't talk publicly because of the lawsuit, but their families can. For the first time, they're speaking out and said they've had enough. They also said Mayor Annise Parker is partly to blame.

"I can't stand by and let my family and my husband get drug through the mud, again," said Robyn Allred, wife of firefighter Spencer Allred.

"The relief we felt with the arbitration completely went away," said Renee Smith, wife of firefighter Ryan Smith.

Robyn Allred and Renee Smith both said they're taking a stand. Their husbands were accused of typing in the "N" word on a computerized medical record during an HFD ambulance run last March.

From the beginning, Spencer Allred, Ryan Smith and Randy Ricks denied it.

HFD fired the Station 55 firefighters after they refused to accept a suspension or take responsibility.

"The three of them did not get together and say, 'Let's do this, let's not tell anybody and let's stick together,'" Robyn Allred said. "They're all innocent. None of them did it."

HFD presented its case, but earlier this month an arbitrator ruled in favor of the firefighters. The wives and the firefighters' union said there was not only no evidence, there was proof the HFD computer where the medical record was found was not secure. The firefighters got their jobs back along with the pay and benefits they missed.

But now, the city is suing for that back pay.

"Everything's back, just all the flood of emotions just coming back," Robyn Allred said. "Why is this happening? Why would they turn around and do this?"

After the arbitrator's ruling, Parker publicly said one of the three should still be fired. The families said proving innocence seems impossible.

"She's the head of our city's government," Renee Smith said. "When she says something, the public believes her."

Support for the firefighters and their families comes in a Facebook page with more than 1,500 members. It was help set up by Renee' Jahnke. Her husband Steve was a 35 year HFD veteran before he died in 2007. He was part of the legendary Jahnke family history at HFD.

"When you talk about the fire department, that's my family," Renee' Jahnke said. "These guys have been through enough. They've done nothing but tell the truth. They have never changed their testimonies. They did not do it. They don't know who did it. They didn't allow it to be done. They need to get on with their lives."

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