I-Team: Investigation closed into local mayor accused of racial profiling

Eyewitness News first told you about the controversy in August.

EXETER, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU)- There is no evidence that a local mayor ordered police officers to racially profile African American residents. Those are the findings of an internal probe of the Exeter Police Department.

The I-Team first told you about the controversy in August.

The Exeter mayor insists he is not a racist and says he would never tell his officers to target African Americans. Some say his own words are reason enough for some to demand another investigation into the matter, this time by an outside agency.

"There was no racial profiling," says Mayor Herman Castellani.

Castellani is at the center of a racial firestorm. In August, several police officers alleged he told them to target African American people and used the word "colored" to describe them. The police officers refused to do it, which prompted the borough solicitor to conduct an investigation.

Solicitor Ray Hassey revealed the results of that probe Tuesday to Eyewitness News saying:
"I found no evidence of racial profiling by police officers. The mayor's comments are the result of general ignorance. I recommend that the mayor and the police department undergo sensitivity training."

The mayor insists he's been vindicated.

"I never did say anything about the colored people in town or nothing, this is a political game by Mr. Galli," says Castellani.

That's former Exeter police officer Len Galli, who is among the officers making the racial profiling allegations.

"It's out of my vocabulary to talk about colored people," says Castellani. "The colored people are Americans like me."

Galli admits he had testy relations with the borough but insists:
"This is not Len Galli, it has nothing to do with Galli. I'm not even an employee at this time. Four other officers came forward, this has nothing to do with politics."

Not satisfied with the internal review, he wants an outside agency to investigate the mayor.

"Mr. Castellani targeted a group of people," says Galli. "Not so much that he used the word 'colored,' which he in fact did use, but he targeted a specific gruop of people."

The president of the Wilkes-Barre chapter of the NAACP, Guerline Laurore, is outraged by the findings of the internal investigation, telling the I-Team in a statement:
"This use of that term [colored] is a slap in the face to the entire community. I believe an independent agency should investigate the matter."

The Exeter mayor insists he is not a racist and says he would never tell his officers to target African Americans, but some say his own words are reason enough for some to demand another investigation into the matter, this time by an outside agency.

Hassey says he stands by the investigation and did what he was instructed to do by the borough council. The council president tells the I-Team he believes the case is closed.

It's unclear what is going to happen next. Council is expected to make a motion at its meeting next month to accept the findings of the report. We also know the FBI has been looking into these allegations, but we're told there doesn't appear to be any criminal wrongdoing. It's not clear who would have to request an outside investigation or if it will ever happen.


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