Police Chief Called a Rogue Cop
CHEYENNE, Wyo. (CN) - A small-town police chief shook down motorists for "cash as bail" for supposed traffic tickets, then pocketed the loot and disappeared, a motorist claims in Federal Court.
Jade Beus sued Cokeville, Wyo., in Federal Court.
Cokeville, pop. 535, near the Idaho-Utah state line, was once known as the Sheep Capital of the World.
Beus claims Cokeville knew its Police Chief Aaron Miller was a rogue lawman, but failed to stop him. He says Miller's whereabouts are unknown.
Miller stopped him in April 2011 for a cracked windshield, searched his vehicle without a warrant, then detained him for 65 minutes in a truck stop parking lot, Beus says in the complaint.
Beus says Miller told him he was "under arrest" and put him in his police cruiser, but never gave him a ticket or charged him with anything.
"Defendant Chief of Police Aaron Miller was known to violate constitutional rights of citizens and visitors, including telling people he stopped that they had to pay Chief of Police Aaron Miller the price of the citation in cash as bail to Chief of Police Aaron Miller," the complaint states. "Chief of Police Aaron Miller then kept the money for himself and did not report the citation or bail to the court."
The complaint continues: "Defendants Town of Cokeville and Cokeville Police Department knew of Chief of Police Aaron Miller illegally took cash from people he stopped while in uniform and driving the Cokeville Police Department police vehicle and did not prevent him from so doing.
"On information and belief, Chief of Police Aaron Miller has left the employment of the Cokeville Police Department and his whereabouts now are unknown. Further that Chief of Police Aaron Miller is being investigated by agencies in the State of Wyoming for his apparent criminal conduct."
Cokeville "essentially adopted a policy of allowing Chief of Police Aaron Miller to stop, detain, search and arrest citizens without probable cause to do so, and stop, detain, search and arrest citizens properly exercising their rights," Beus says.
Cokeville, in western Wyoming, was home to 535 people in 2010. The town, named for coal found in the area, was informally called the "Sheep Capital of the World" in the early 1900s.
A LinkedIn page this morning described Aaron Miller, formerly Cokeville chief of police, as an explosives detection dog handler with Global Integrated Security Solutions of Manitou Springs, Colo.
According to the LinkedIn page, Miller started his present job in September 2011, though it says he was Cokeville police chief until December 2011.
Beus seeks punitive damages for unlawful detention, false arrest, and unlawful search and seizure.
He is represented by Gary Ferguson with Burridge & Ferguson, of South Jordan, Utah.