GREENVILLE, S.C. — A former Greenville police officer has sued Police Chief Ken Miller and the city in U.S. District Court.

Local media report that Joshua Pratt says in the lawsuit that he was improperly suspended and fired for a mistake in an affidavit.

Pratt’s lawsuit says he thinks he was really fired because he spoke out about a lack of leadership as Greenville police confronted Black Lives Matter protesters in July.

Pratt says the paperwork mistake was used an excuse to get rid of him.

Miller issued a written response.

“This lawsuit lacks any merit whatsoever, and the city and I intend to vigorously defend against it,” Miller said. “There will be no further comment, as the matter is pending in litigation.”

Pratt was choked during the protest and spoke out in department meetings and discussions with city council about issues within the police department, including a lack of leadership during the protests.

“After plaintiff and other officers exercised their First Amendment rights, defendant Miller threatened officers with discipline for speaking out, and directed an internal affairs investigation of plaintiff over an immaterial paperwork discrepancy,” the lawsuit states.

A memo signed by Miller said Pratt was fired last month because of “intentional deception” in an affidavit and further deception during an internal investigation.

Upstate Black Lives Matter conducted rallies July 8 and July 9 in Greenville after the highly publicized shootings of men in Louisiana and Minnesota.

The lawsuit seeks a jury trial.