A California man accused of shooting his former boss, a city parks superintendent, filed a racial discrimination lawsuit against the park district and the slain superintendent in 2009.
Dupree Pierre Barber, of Rancho Cordova, was arraigned Thursday in a Sacramento County courtroom on a murder charge with the special circumstances of lying in wait and shooting from one vehicle into another.
He's accused of killing Cordova Recreation and Parks District Superintendent Steve Ebert. The special circumstances mean Barber could face the death penalty if convicted of the charges.
Barber did not enter a plea. A judge appointed a public defender to represent him and continued the case until Feb. 16.
In his October 2009 lawsuit, Barber accused Ebert of discrimination for not promoting an African-American co-worker from a part-time to a full-time position, according to The Sacramento Bee (http://bit.ly/AjPZuv). He alleged that all the white employees doing part-time work had been turned into full-time workers.
Barber also said in the lawsuit that Ebert once approached him in a stance that made him appear ready to fight.
He also accused Ebert of calling him a backstabber and said a toy doll with a knife in its back later turned up in the door handle of his work truck.
"My impression was that he was paranoid and attributed ordinary events at work to somehow being designed to undercut him in some manner," Steven Horan, an attorney who represented Ebert and questioned Barber in the discrimination lawsuit, told the Bee.
Cordova park district officials denied the racial discrimination allegations. Barber dropped the case after the district filed a motion for summary judgment in September 2010, according to Horan.
Barber is accused of shooting Ebert early Monday as Ebert pulled into a park that houses the district's offices. Barber was among more than a dozen district employees who were laid off about two weeks earlier to close a budget deficit.
Barber's public defender, John Perkins, described his client as very distraught and the case as a "tragedy" for Ebert's and Barber's families.
Information from: The Sacramento Bee, http://www.sacbee.com