Trouble seems to follow Fairview Police Chief Granver Tolliver wherever he goes. Back when he was a Dallas cop, soaring through the ranks to deputy chief, he became mired in an internal controversy over a vehicle accident in 1996. Department brass accused him of favoritism and of pulling the strings to get the outcome he wanted. A grand jury got involved. Chief Bennie Click demanded he submit to a polygraph. Tolliver resigned instead, and sued the city for race discrimination and due process violation claims. He lost in federal court, and got denied on appeal.
Then he sued the city of Mesquite for race discrimination for declining to hire him. Then he sued Dallas again when he was found ineligible to run for Dallas County constable.
It looked like Tolliver found a quiet spot as chief of police in Fairview, a town of about 8,000 near McKinney, away from the roil of Dallas County. But trouble found him. Lisa Mitchell, a former Fairview Police officer, is suing Tolliver for alleged sexual harassment, battery, discrimination and for passing her over for promotions she says she deserved.
According to her complaint, she was hired in 2005. Tolliver told her, she claims, that she would have to attend college if she wished to rise through the department ranks. When she got her associate's degree and then her bachelor's in criminal justice, she says, Tolliver assured her she was on her way to qualifying for promotion.
Then, in 2009, she claims she found a thumb drive on her desk. She figured someone had misplaced it, so she put it on another officer's desk. Yet throughout the week, she claims the thumb drive continued to reappear on her desk, so she took it home. Mitchell opened it on her own personal computer, the complaint alleges, and found multiple images of "Tolliver standing by the backseat of a patrol car receiving oral sex and having sexual intercourse with a married woman whose wedding ring is clearly visible in the picture."
Mitchell says she was "disturbed" by the photos, but feared retaliation if she said anything. Yet she phoned Tolliver anyway, she claims, and told him she had a thumb drive belonging to him. Tolliver allegedly asked her to arrive at headquarters early to meet with him in his office. When she arrived, she claims he took the thumb drive from her and opened it on his computer. Tolliver, she says, admitted the photos were of him. She claims she asked him to clarify the "message" he was trying to send. He denied leaving them on Mitchell's desk, the complaint says, and asked her if she made any copies. Mitchell claimed she'd made none.
More than a year later, Mitchell says two fellow officers were promoted to the rank of corporal. One, she claims, had a reprimand on his record and lacked her "academic credentials." Tolliver later approached her and told her he wanted "to put one more stripe on her shoulder above the two stripes that were given to the two corporals." He allegedly told her she was unique, because she could work the patrol side as well as the administrative side of law enforcement. Mitchell says Tolliver talked about making her a sergeant in a year or so.
"In the same conversation, Tolliver told Plaintiff that he would not be able to control himself if he had to work around her for long periods of time in the same office and volunteered that he was going to have 'to fire her to fuck her,'" the complaint alleges.
Mitchell says she was stunned, and that throughout 2010 and 2011, it got worse. She alleges he sometimes yanked her ponytail. At a 2011 veteran's appreciation event, while they were on mounted patrol, she claims he allegedly told her the only time she wasn't a "bitch" was "when she was sleeping." As the fireworks were about to begin, she says she asked him if she could take the horses to the trailer. "... He gestured for her to lean toward him as though he had something to say to her in confidence. When she leaned in towards Tolliver, he grabbed her ponytail with force and whispered to her crudely, 'This is how I'll take you from behind. ... This is how I will fuck you,'" the complaint reads.
"When she told him to let go, he made a crude gesture with his right hand at his side to gesture how he would penetrate her vaginally with his fingers. Again, (Mitchell) was repulsed, but was afraid to complain for fear of retaliation by Chief Tolliver."
In November 2011, Mitchell says she was passed over for promotion once again for a man she claims had only been with the department for a year and a half and had no college degree. Some $60,000 in college debt, Mitchell resigned.
Tolliver, for his part, said in an emailed statement, "The allegations made against me by Ms. Mitchell are false. Since ligation has been initiated it would be unfair for me to refute any specific allegation. I respect our justice system and have no doubt that I and the Town of Fairview will be vindicated through this process."
Clark McCoy, the attorney representing the city, would only say that Mitchell filed a complaint with the Equal Employment and Opportunity Commission and that no reasonable cause was found. A spokesperson for the EEOC could not confirm or deny whether it had even investigated Mitchell's claims, but said its findings were by no means "the last word" on a claim.
Mitchell's attorney, Nicholas A. O'Kelly, declined to comment on pending litigation.
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