A former North Charleston policeman who appeared online in Confederate flag-emblazoned underwear has settled a federal lawsuit against the city that fired him.
The state Insurance Reserve Fund will pay out $55,000 for former Sgt. Shannon Dildine's wrongful termination claim in U.S. District Court, city attorney Brady Hair said Friday.
The agreement came during a standard mediation process, Hair said. An Oct. 19 court order said the case would be dismissed once the settlement is finalized.
A picture of the scantily clad Dildine, who is white, emerged on Facebook in June 2015, five days after nine black worshippers at Emanuel AME Church were slain by Dylann Roof, an avowed white supremacist who waved the Confederate battle flag as a symbol of his beliefs. The mass killing in Charleston ignited discussion about the banner, eventually leading to its removal from Statehouse grounds in Columbia.
Roof now awaits execution on federal death row.
Dildine’s posting also came two months after a fellow officer fatally shot Walter Scott, a black man, amid a national debate over the use of police force against minorities.
The city said Dildine’s picture was inflammatory and showed poor judgment.
But in his suit that described humiliation and post-traumatic stress disorder, Dildine said he didn’t know Roof had used the Civil War-era flag to express racial hatred. Instead, he claimed the city had discriminated against him because he's white after a black officer wasn't disciplined for posing with Black Lives Matter protesters.
Dildine’s suit said he had posted the image to defuse a Facebook discussion about the flag sparked in the church shooting’s aftermath.
“Being born and raised in the Southern United States, (Dildine) did not believe the Confederate flag was a symbol of hate,” the suit added.
But after a police supervisor inquired about the photo the next day, the officer deleted it.