- Associated Press - Monday, August 6, 2018

WINLOCK, Wash. (AP) - A Toledo police sergeant has levied a $3 million discrimination and defamation claim against the city of Winlock, saying Mayor Don Bradshaw falsely accused him of a felony as part of an attempt to re-form the city’s police department.

Toledo Police Sergeant Sam Patrick filed a tort claim in mid-July with both the City of Winlock and Lewis County Risk Management, along with a letter from his attorney, Paul J. Boudreaux, noting that even the Lewis County Prosecutor’s Office found the allegations to be “meritless.”

“City of Winlock representatives have utilized their official capacity to defame, discredit, and deny fundamental civil rights to Mr. Patrick for no other purpose than to unlawfully attempt to rescind a contract,” Boudreaux states in the letter. “This unconscionable behavior has now impacted Officer Patrick’s current and future job prospects, as well as his standing in his community.”

According to Washington law, citizens must file tort claims before a lawsuit can be filed.

The document received by Lewis County on July 16 claims “discrimination in public accommodation,” ”negligent hiring/supervision,” ”tort of outrage,” defamation, a violation of Patrick’s civil rights and abuse of process.

“Officer Patrick seeks all economic damages, including lost wages, lost benefits, lost promotions, lost future earnings, and all costs associated with his lost employment,” Boudreaux wrote.

Patrick has not lost his job with the Toledo Police Department.

The claim is dated July 12 of this year and was signed by Boudreaux, associate attorney at Rodgers Kee Card & Strophy, P.S.

“My attorney is prepared to go the distance,” Patrick said. “We have enough written documentation from Winlock to pursue this all the way to the end, if necessary.”

Patrick noted there is a 60-day window for Winlock to either respond or settle. Otherwise, Winlock will be served a lawsuit.

“It has definitely affected both my personal and professional life,” Patrick said, adding that he cannot elaborate without his attorney on the phone.

Boudreaux sent the claim to Lewis County Risk Management, City of Winlock Risk Management and Winlock City Attorney Samuel D. Satterfield.

Boudreaux did not return a request for comment.

Winlock’s claims seemingly stemmed from Mayor of Winlock Don Bradshaw’s push to terminate an interlocal agreement with the City of Toledo for law enforcement services early.

On Jan. 2 Bradshaw sent a letter to the City of Toledo stating his intent to terminate the agreement before it expired at the end of this year. After Toledo chose not to respond, the City of Winlock sent a letter dated Feb. 27 that claimed “breach of contract” and accused Patrick of committing the felony crime of burglary.

Winlock alleged that Patrick entered into restricted areas of Winlock City Hall and accessed court files without permission.

When asked if the claims against Patrick were a negotiating tactic, Bradshaw previously told The Chronicle that “the thing with Officer Patrick was something that happened before I got here. The thing with Officer Patrick was a judiciary finding by our municipal judge.”

However, there are no court records that verify any formal legal action or ruling by a judge against Patrick in Winlock Municipal Court.

“There is no court records on Sam Patrick because the city never charged him with anything,” Winlock City Treasurer Tedi Curry wrote in an email. “His tort claim was based on suspicion and there were never any charges filed. If you fill out a public records request, there are no records to obtain.”

Bradshaw did not return a request for comment.

The Lewis County Sheriff’s Office investigated the City of Winlock’s allegation of burglary and the Lewis County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office reviewed its findings, declining to file charges.

A letter from Lewis County Prosecutor Jonathan Meyer regarding his decision not to charge Patrick reads in part, “I am dumfounded (sic) how this matter reached my desk in the first place. The timing of this complaint against a member of the Toledo Police Department is suspect, as is the complaint itself … there is absolutely no proof that Sgt. Sam Patrick had anything to do with any of the events alleged.”

Meyer continued: “And by ‘events alleged,’ I mean just that - ‘alleged,’” he wrote. “There is no proof that anything ACTUALLY (sic) happened…there is ZERO (sic) evidence as to who, if anyone, is responsible. Rather, this seems like some within the city of Winlock trying to find issue with the city of Toledo Police Department. It is no secret some within the city of Winlock want to terminate the contract with Toledo for law enforcement services.”

Ultimately, Winlock withdrew the claim against Patrick as part of the mediation settlement to terminate its interlocal agreement with Toledo for police services. Bradshaw and Satterfield signed that settlement on June 11.

The Toledo Police Department will lose two of its four officers as a result of the termination of the interlocal agreement. Patrick will remain with the department.

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