By MATTHEW BARAKAT
ALEXANDRIA, Va. (AP) – A Wisconsin native who lost his left hand in an Army training accident won a lawsuit Wednesday against the FBI after claiming he was denied a fair chance to become a special agent.
Justin Slaby, 30, of Stafford, Va., served in Iraq and Afghanistan. He lost his hand when a grenade prematurely detonated during a 2004 training exercise in Georgia.
Slaby applied to become an FBI agent but said he faced discrimination at the FBI Academy in Quantico because of his prosthetic hand. He said the FBI required proficiency shooting a gun with his left hand when that requirement is not imposed on anyone else.
A federal jury in Alexandria ruled Wednesday in Slaby’s favor and awarded him $75,000 for emotional pain and suffering. A hearing scheduled for next week will determine potential back pay and the status of his agent application.
An FBI spokesman declined comment Wednesday.
Before the trial began, a magistrate judge admonished the woman who had been in charge of the Milwaukee FBI office, Teresa Carlson, for her conduct in the Slaby case. An FBI firearms instructor said Carlson made comments to him that he perceived as pressure to testify against Slaby at trial.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Ivan D. Davis called Carlson’s conduct “wholly inappropriate” and said it “could have resulted in erosion in the integrity of the judicial process.”
Slaby’s application to become a special agent had been sponsored by the Milwaukee field office.
Carlson has since been transferred from her post in Milwaukee. She refused to testify at Slaby’s trial, invoking her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.