Police officer adds to lawsuits against Red Bank

Police officer adds to lawsuits against Red Bank

August 24th, 2010 by Chris Carroll in News

A DUI suspect, an ex-police chief, a patrol officer and now a police corporal have something in common.

They all want $1.5 million from Red Bank, bringing combined summer 2010 damage claims against the city to $6 million - not including a $10 million suit against the city's traffic cameras filed in April.

Red Bank has a $5.1 million annual operating budget.


* April 30 - Several residents file a $10 million lawsuit against Red Bank for its three sets of traffic cameras. City argues that red-light offenders "are not entitled to a trial by jury, a presumption of innocence, or a heightened burden of proof."

* July 2 - Ousted police chief Larry Sneed files a $1.5 million suit against the city for retaliatory discharge and political conspiracy. City responds a month later, saying Sneed's contract did not require a reason for firing.

* Aug. 4 - Officer Bradley Hanon sues the city for "defamation, humiliation and mental anguish" after he said he exposed several incidents of alleged improper police work. Two of the officials he sues call the $1.5 million lawsuit "frivolous."

* Aug. 16 - John Anthony Murray sues for "mental anguish" damages, alleging that a Red Bank officer and a Hamilton County sheriff's deputy meddled with records to justify his DUI arrest. The city has not issued an official response to the $1.5 million suit.

* Aug. 23 - Red Bank police Cpl. Rebecca Chauncey sues for an unpaid suspension her attorney dubbed "retaliatory" after she tried to stop Murray's arrest.

The latest seven-figure complaint involving current or former members of the police department comes from Red Bank police Cpl. Rebecca Chauncey.

According to Chauncey's lawsuit, interim Chief Dan Knight recently suspended her for letting an officer carry an assault rifle in the trunk of his car "without prior permission" from the chief.

But the lawsuit claims that a police sergeant and another patrol officer carried assault weapons "for months" without telling their superiors.

"It makes it hard for a police officer to do his or her job when they don't know what to expect," said attorney Robin Flores, who is representing Chauncey in the federal court case. "Red Bank's policies are rarely enforced, and if they are, they're used as a tool for retaliation."

Several officers said Knight was close to ousted police chief Larry Sneed.

Chauncey filed a gender harassment complaint against Sneed in late 2009 after he made "comments about her figure," Flores said.

Flores also said Chauncey's superiors deprived her of due process by letting officials who suspended her handle her appeal.

Red Bank City Attorney Arnold Stulce declined to discuss the mounting litigation against the city.

"It's better not to comment on it since I haven't seen the latest yet," he said.

The second part of the Chauncey lawsuit echoes Officer Bradley Hanon's $1.5 million complaint about attempting to stop an "illegal arrest" that happened several miles outside Red Bank's jurisdiction.

It charges that Officer Tammie Delashmitt tampered with police records to validate the DUI arrest, which occurred several miles outside Red Bank's jurisdiction.

"Rebecca Chauncey's position is certainly to get the bad guys off the street, but to do it right," Flores said.

Knight, who also is named in Chauncey's lawsuit, has said the officers "did the right thing" when they decided to chase a weaving car outside city limits, but never commented on how records were handled.

The DUI suspect, John Anthony Murray, filed a $1.5 million lawsuit last week.

Flores is representing Chauncey, Hanon and Murray in their respective cases against Red Bank.

Sneed filed a $1.5 million lawsuit against Red Bank, several commissioners and the city manager for retaliatory discharge and political conspiracy after his July 2 firing.