LAS VEGAS (CN) - A Las Vegas school district fired a police officer for telling the FBI about a police party where a teenager got drunk and then killed a woman by driving drunk, the officer claims in court.
Former school district police Lt. Daniel M. Burgess claims the Clark County School District fired him for cooperating with the FBI and reporting that 18-year-old Kevin Miranda and other minors were served alcohol and played beer pong with off-duty police officers during a dispatcher's party.
After the party, Miranda ran a red light, struck a car driven by 24-year-old UNLV student Angela Peterson and killed her. He pleaded guilty to felony drunk driving causing death and was sentenced to six to 17 years in prison.
Days after the Nov. 28, 2009 party and accident, Burgess says, he learned of the "improper and illegal conduct," and that department officials, including then-Police Chief Filiberto "Phil" Arroyo and current Police Chief James Ketsaa, "began their attempts to cover up - rather than investigate - the involvement of Clark County School District and its employees in sponsoring" the party.
The lawsuit is against the school district and its police officers - not against city police. Arroyo and Ketsaa also are defendants, as is the school district's internal affairs investigator Christopher Klemp.
Flyers advertising the party were hung at the school police department headquarters and distributed to employee mailboxes, Burgess says. After the fatal accident department officials "began their cover-up by ordering that all flyers advertising the party, including reference to playing beer pong, be removed and/or destroyed, and that Clark County School district employees were not to speak of the Wamsley party."
Despite the cover-up, Burgess says, he and other employees were concerned about the department's involvement and reported it to the FBI, to supervisors, to internal affairs and to the media.
He says his supervisors told him "it was out of their hands" and that Arroyo, Ketsaa and internal affairs investigators were handling the matter, but the FBI opened an investigation and used Burgess as a confidential informant.
During the FBI investigation, Burgess says, he obtained a jailhouse phone recording Miranda made to his girlfriend discussing playing beer pong and drinking during the party. He gave the recording to the FBI.
The recording became the subject of a Sept. 29, 2014 article in the Nevada Journal , by Karen Gray.
The department investigated the source, and Burgess says he told defendant Klemp that he "knew of the recording and [had] reported it to the FBI" as a confidential informant."
The department retaliated by opening an investigation against Burgess in October 2014, during which he was "exiled to his home and isolated" from school district police, he says. He was fired six months later.
Las Vegas Metropolitan Police said in December 2011 there was not enough evidence that minors were served alcohol during the party, and did not look into a possible cover-up, the Review Journal reported.
Metropolitan police said that even if they had found such evidence, the statute of limitations had expired, according to the Nevada Journal.
Arroyo resigned in 2012.
Burgess seeks punitive damages in Clark County Court for tortious discharge, whistleblower violations, bad faith, retaliation, conspiracy, emotional distress and civil rights violations.
Ketsaa was not available for comment Wednesday.
Burgess's attorney, Joseph Gutierrez, did not return a call seeking comment.
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