Archive for Wednesday, May 15, 2002

Fourth officer files complaint against city

May 15, 2002

A fourth Baldwin City Police Officer, Chuck Hensley, has served notice to the city of his intention to sue. However, Hensley is only seeking $100,000, unlike the $300,000 apiece the other officers are after.

In mid March, officers Bill Dempsey, Charles Woolsencroft and Eric Garcia served notice of complaint paperwork to the city claiming first and 14th amendment rights violations. Hensley was expected to do the same at the time, but his paperwork wasn't filed until Thursday.

As for the difference in damages sought, the officers' attorney, Dennis Hawver, said Hensley didn't receive the same harm as the others.

"I don't think he was treated as badly," said Hawver. "He wasn't suspended. He was given a written reprimand for reasons we still don't understand. He didn't have the same career damaging action taken against him. But, he was retaliated against."

The notice of complaint is a precursor to a lawsuit. The city has 120 days to respond to the complaints. For the first three, that clock started on March 15. For Hensley's, the clock started Thursday. Hawver said he hasn't heard from the city about the complaints.

"No, I haven't," he said. "I've gotten a letter, a polite representation letter (from the attorney who represents the city's insurance company). I've received no information about willingness to discuss the case or possible settlement."

At one point, Hawver indicated he would be more than happy to discuss those possibilities with the city. City Administrator Larry Paine said there hasn't been any movement toward that.

"We're not doing any direct action," said Paine.

Paine said Hensley's paperwork, just like the other three sets, have been given to the attorneys.

"It has been referred out to our insurance company and they are reviewing the legal aspects of that," he said. "They have not told us anything regarding it. There's plenty of time and we'll see what happens."

Hawver has much the same attitude.

"Often government feels why should they talk to me," said Hawver. "Which is fine. We'll let the jury sort it out. I think they'll see it my way."

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