Pa. ex-trooper sues over her firing

A former Pennsylvania state trooper claims that her superiors forced her either to resign or break up with her boyfriend after he stole MP3 players from a Radio Shack and used her car as a getaway vehicle while she was sleeping in the front seat, court documents said.

In a recently filed federal civil-rights suit against three of her former superiors at the Belmont barracks, Antwana Murphy, 40, claims that she was forced to resign because of her boyfriend's criminal activities while two white female colleagues whose paramours also had criminal records were not.

The suit says that on Jan. 6, 2007, Murphy, then a trooper, and her boyfriend of three years, John C. McMillon, 47, were out looking at homes when she fell asleep in the car and he stopped at a Radio Shack in Jenkintown, where he swiped "several" MP3 players.

Murphy claims that she didn't wake up or learn of the theft until local police pulled over the couple's car.

The suit also claims that it was only during the investigation that Murphy learned that McMillon had a prior record from a conviction when he was 18. It's not clear from the suit or online court records what the conviction was for.

Jenkintown Police told Murphy's supervisors at the State Police about the incident and her relationship with McMillon, the suit claims, and in August 2007, then-Captain David Young sent her an order to end her relationship with McMillion.

Murphy, who was pregnant with McMillon's child, refused and filed a grievance, court records said. It took several months before the grievance was determined to be "arbitrable and subject to the grievance procedure," the suit said.

In the interim, Murphy said, she was suspended for 30 days without pay.

In June 2008, Murphy said, she was "summoned to an interrogation room" where one of her supervisors told her that if she didn't resign, she'd be court-martialed and lose all her benefits, court documents said.

Scared, Murphy resigned, but she claims that had she been able to pursue her grievances she would have offered up examples of two white State Police employees who were dating people with criminal histories and were not threatened or fired.

Murphy is seeking more than $150,000 in damages from three of her then-superiors at the State Police - Young, Lt. Gary Dance and Cpl. James Hein.

State Police spokeswoman Lt. Myra Taylor said that she was familiar with the suit but that the State Police does not comment on pending litigation.

Although she was unable to immediately say if state troopers are forbidden to date those with criminal records, she did say that there are departmental guidelines that include who a trooper should not associate with in certain kinds of ways.

"We do have regulations that dictate how we are to behave both on and off duty," she said. "We are held to a higher standard - as we should be."

Murphy's attorney did not return repeated calls for comment.