Retired Amherst police officer suing over denied promotion

  • Amherst Police Station GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 5/13/2021 7:55:51 PM

AMHERST — An Amherst police lieutenant who retired in August after 32 years serving in the department alleges in a Hampshire Superior Court lawsuit that he was refused a promotion to captain in 2019 as retaliation for filing an earlier complaint.

The lawsuit against the town of Amherst, on behalf of David R. Knightly Jr. of Hadley, modifies a complaint that outlined a series of alleged actions by his superiors that led to a hostile work environment and compromised his health. Superior Court Judge Karen L. Goodwin issued a summary judgment in favor of the town in April 2020 related to most aspects of the lawsuit, including that he had suffered from gender, age and handicap discrimination.

Filed by attorney Tani Sapirstein of Sapirstein & Sapirstein PC of Springfield, a part of the lawsuit states, “As a result of this retaliatory conduct, Mr. Knightly suffered and continues to suffer from damages, including but not limited to lost wages and emotional distress.”

The original legal action began in late 2017, when Knightly filed a Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination complaint. That was followed by the Hampshire Superior Court complaint in August 2018 after the MCAD lawsuit was withdrawn.

In the original complaint, Knightly contends that he suffered emotional distress and lost wages after he was no longer considered eligible for the educational wage incentive through the state’s Quinn Bill.

By January 2019, he had applied for promotion to captain, but was denied in favor of what the later complaint states was a less senior and less qualified individual.

Sapirstein said Thursday she disagrees with the judge’s summary judgment because all actions added up. “It was a continuing violation, in our opinion,” Sapirstein said.  

Scott Merzbach can be reached at

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