- The Washington Times - Monday, April 4, 2016

Two police officers in Columbus, Ohio, have filed a pair of lawsuits against the city over how it conducted an internal affairs investigation concerning nude photographs sent between the two officers.

Tricia Zimmerman, an officer with the Columbus Division of Police, admitted to her supervisors that she sent nude photos to her boyfriend, Columbus Officer Jeffrey Lazar, Fox News’s local affiliate reported. She insists that the pictures were sent while she was off-duty and between each other’s personal phones, however, and has taken umbrage with the agency’s handling the probe after she cleared of wrongdoing.

In a federal lawsuit filed by Officer Zimmerman in December, she alleges that that the Columbus Division of Police became aware of her relationship with Officer Lazar after her boyfriend’s estranged wife stole her husband’s phone and brought it to police as alleged proof the officers had sex while on duty.

Internal Affairs investigated the wife’s allegations and ultimately determined her claims couldn’t be substantiated, The Associated Press reported. During the course of its probe, however, Officer Zimmerman claims investigators “printed out copies of the photos of Zimmerman, laid the pictures out on a conference room table and showed the pictures to other officers uninvolved in the investigation,” according to a local NBC News affiliate.

“They printed out the pictures they passed them around to other people they made lewd comments to our client about them and when our client complained about the way things were being handled they started retaliating against her in terms of her job responsibilities,” her attorney, John Camillus, told the Fox News affiliate.

Officer Zimmerman alleged in her lawsuit that she was subjected to unprofessional and degrading comments from her colleagues and superiors as a result, and that she was retaliated against when she spoke up about their behavior.

Officer Lazar has filed a his own lawsuit, alleging that the Internal Affairs searched his cellphone without a warrant, and investigated something that was “clearly a domestic matter, unrelated to police business,” the NBC affiliate reported. Additionally, Officer Lazar alleges he was retaliated against as well “for exercising his First Amendment rights in speaking out about the illegality of the search and the violation of his Fourth Amendment rights.”

The Columbus Division of Police denied conducting a warrantless search of the officer’s phone or sharing the lewd images with officers not involved in the investigation, Fox News reported.


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