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Black officer, city tentatively settle discrimination lawsuit

A black police lieutenant in Cocoa who filed a discrimination lawsuit against the city has accepted a tentative settlement.

Lt. Nathaniel Hooks, who in November 1990 claimed that the city had passed him over for promotion to police chief because of his race, accepted a cash settlement on the eve of an expected two-week hearing before a U.S. magistrate in Orlando.

Both sides were hesitant to discuss details of the arrangement. For instance, they would not reveal the amount of the settlement before the City Council has reviewed it. But they agreed the city is not admitting liability.

"The city is not admitting any wrongdoing. This is just one of those out-of-court settlements," City Manager Harry Kollman said. He said he expects the council to discuss the tentative settlement at its Oct. 13 meeting.

Kollman was not involved in the negotiations but said that from what he knows of the agreement he expects to recommend it to the mayor and council. He said it involves a lump-sum cash settlement and some payments made over a period of time. He also said Hooks, a 26-year veteran of the force, plans to retire before the end of the year.

Hooks, who was scheduled to appear with city officials Monday in court, declined to comment. But his lawyer, Joseph Moss, said he is satisfied with the agreement.