‘I was stunned’ Marion firefighter files lawsuit following noose incident

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Firefighter Mikel Neal

MARION, Ind. (June 30, 2015) – Firefighter Mikel Neal filed a lawsuit Thursday against his former assistant chief Rick Backs. The lawsuit seeks monetary damages against Backs for injuries received by Neal during a ropes training exercise on February 13, 2015 at Fire Station 6 in Marion.

According to the lawsuit, Backs maliciously threw a noose to Neal and said, “Here Mikki.” Neal set the noose on the table and shook his head in shock.

Neal was the only African American present during the exercise.

Former Assistant Fire Chief Rick Backs

Former Assistant Fire Chief Rick Backs

Neal later spoke out about the incident and said, “I was just instantly upset, disgusted, angry, but I was stunned.”

The lawsuit also states that Neal suffered serious and permanent emotional injuries requiring time off work and multiple counseling sessions.

The fire department says this was the first incident they’ve experienced with discrimination.

Backs was demoted after the incident.

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