Big Wiretap Mess for South Bend Police
SOUTH BEND, Ind. (CN) - Four South Bend, Ind., police officers claim a City Council member defamed them after listening to illegal wiretaps of their conversations.
Brian Young, Dave Wells, Steve Richmond and Tim Corbett sued South Bend, its Common Council, and Councilor Henry Davis, in St. Joseph County Court.
The 5-page lawsuit does not identify the plaintiffs as police officers. The Associated Press did so, in a Thursday story.
The officers claimed the city illegally recorded conversations on their department-issued phones, and reached a $500,000 settlement with South Bend in December 2013, according to the AP.
In the lawsuit, the men say they "have been and continue to be involved in litigation with the City of South Bend involving the illegality of the recording of certain conversations under the provisions of the Federal Wire Tap Act and Indiana I.C.35-33.5.
According to the AP story, which cited the South Bend Tribune, the officers claim Davis defamed them in a 2012 letter to the Department of Justice, accusing the officers of "racially based misconduct." The Department of Justice investigated the recordings, and a federal judge is considering whether they should be released, according to the AP.
The lawsuit states that in August 2012, "Henry Davis forwarded to the United States Department of Justice correspondence accusing said plaintiffs of racially based misconduct which allegations, if true, would constitute a crime."
The officers claim that Davis listened to the tapes, which were made in violation of the state and federal laws, or got the information from an unknown person who did so, and that Davis then disseminated the information to the public. They claim that he did so beyond the scope of his duties as a member of the Common Council, and so is individually liable for it.
Davis said his letter merely reported allegations that had been reported in the local media, according to the South Bend Tribune.
The officers seek punitive damages.
They are represented by Daniel Pfeifer with Pfeifer, Morgan & Stesiak, of South Bend.