Former Tisbury Police Sgt. Kindia Roman has settled with the town of Tisbury, with former Tisbury Police Chief Mark Saloio, and with Tisbury Police Sgt. Max Sherman for a sum that’s yet to be disclosed.
The case was dismissed on June 17 by U.S. District Court Judge Indira Talwani in light of the settlement, court records show.
On Monday, Roman declined comment.
On Tuesday, Roman’s attorney, Timothy Burke, said he anticipates a statement from the town about the settlement.
Other key individuals either didn’t respond to messages or could not be immediately reached for comment.
Roman’s allegations against Tisbury began with a Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD) complaint. Roman previously alleged in that complaint, and later a federal lawsuit, that she was discriminated against and then blackballed for being a gay Hispanic woman. Roman filed her MCAD complaint in 2018. She withdrew the MCAD in 2020 and folded the allegations it contained into a lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court of Massachusetts. The suit alleged civil rights violations and discrimination, among other counts.
A primary allegation of Roman’s was that she tried to leave the Tisbury Police Department and join the Walpole Police Department, where she had a promising opportunity. However, Sherman, a detective at the time, allegedly poisoned her prospects in Walpole, and later allegedly had a hand in ruining her attempt to return to the Tisbury Police Department.
Roman briefly returned to Tisbury as a special police officer, and despite filing with MCAD, she alleged she remained subject to discrimination, and also to retaliation. Even though he had an open MCAD complaint against him, former Chief Saloio recommended Sherman be elevated to sergeant, and the select board promoted him. Simultaneously, Jeff Day, who has since resigned, was promoted to sergeant. Day has allegations of untruthfulness and false arrest on his record.
In the federal suit, Roman alleged Sherman and other officers suggested she had an affair with a superior officer, former Tisbury Police Lt. Eerik Meisner, with whom she previously worked at a larger police department in Florida. Officers allegedly called Roman Lt. Meisner’s “side chick” and “side piece,” falsely implying that she had an “inappropriate relationship with Lt. Meisner, and had only received her job due to her relationship with Lt. Meisner,” the suit states.
“On numerous occasions during her employment with the [Tisbury Police Department],” the suit alleged, “[Roman] was referred to by other officers as a ‘token’ officer, implying that she did not earn her accomplishments, and that she was only hired and promoted because she was a minority woman.”
Officers also allegedly targeted Roman’s Puerto Rican heritage.
“Several officers also referred to [Roman] as a ‘hot tamale,’ and used this derogatory term because they knew [Roman] was Hispanic,” the suit alleged. It further alleged, “Sherman’s animosity toward [Roman] was palpable. Sherman openly referred to women in general, including [Roman], by use of the word [expletive of female anatomy]. He also used the word ‘dyke’ when referring to [Roman] or her life partner.”
In the complaint, Roman stated the department hired Sherman, a “white straight male,” as a full-time officer in 2015. Based on their respective ranks during Roman’s time at the department, Sherman reported to her. Nevertheless, Roman’s complaint alleged, “whenever I would tell him to do something, he would call someone else to see if I could tell him what to do.”
Meisner had his own challenges with Tisbury’s police department. He sued the town and negotiated a $400,000 settlement after being demoted and terminated because he stood up for Roman, the suit alleged. Her life was allegedly made “impossible” by several officers in the department.
“These officers would disregard my direct orders,” Roman’s suit alleged, “they would fail to assist me, they made comments that I wasn’t a good leader, that I didn’t deserve to be a sergeant, and would tell me that they didn’t have to listen to me during my tenure.”
Roman’s suit alleged former Tisbury Police Officer Jeremie Rogers, the son of former Tisbury select board member Jim Rogers, “was close personal friends with Defendant Sherman, and held similar views on [Roman’s] identify as a gay woman.”
The suit also alleged Jeremie Rogers “delivered” a letter to the select board “opposing” the appointment of Danielle Clermont to the Tisbury Police Department. However, no such letter has ever been produced.
Clermont was Roman’s girlfriend. Clermont also filed a federal suit against Tisbury and Sherman. Her suit also included Jim Rogers and former Tisbury Police Chief Dan Hanavan. The suit claimed Clermont was unlawfully frozen out of a police job the town trained her for, and that someone from the Tisbury Police Department tried to ruin a subsequent job opportunity of hers at the Westwood Police Department. However, that suit was by and large dismissed on account of being “time-barred” — not filed in time under the law. Clermont filed suit in Dukes County Superior Court. The suit remains active.
Roman’s suit further alleged Lt. Meisner conducted an internal investigation on Sherman and “concluded” that “Sherman had provided false information to the Walpole Police Department maliciously, with the specific intent of preventing [Roman] from securing employment there.”
The suit alleged Sherman wasn’t disciplined, but promoted. Subsequently a new police chief was appointed in Tisbury, and that chief, Mark Saloio, was alleged to have tried to coerce Lt. Meisner into backing the town, as opposed to Roman, relative to her MCAD complaint. To this Lt. Meisner allegedly said, according to the suit, that he would only tell “the truth.”
Lt. Meisner was subsequently interviewed by a town lawyer, according to the suit, and was “supportive” of Roman’s “position and the allegations she made in her MCAD complaint.”
Six days after the interview with the town lawyer, the suit alleges “Chief Saloio called Lt. Meisner into his office and ordered him to turn over his service weapon, badge, and ID, because Lt. Meisner was ‘all done.’”
Meisner never returned to the Tisbury Police Department.
Roman landed a job at the Westwood Police Department, where she is now a detective. Clermont also got a job at the Westwood Police Department, despite the alleged attempt to thwart her employment there.