Cop Sues Vegas Police in Bundy Ranch Fallout

     LAS VEGAS (CN) — Las Vegas police illegally fired a SWAT team leader who stood up for another officer who posted an online comment about the armed standoff at the Bundy Ranch in 2014, the veteran officer claims in Federal Court.
     Michael Quick is a 23-year veteran of Las Vegas Metropolitan Police, most recently as a SWAT team leader and training section sergeant, he says in his June 30 lawsuit against Clark County, the Metro Police and a police lieutenant.
     The lawsuit stems from the standoff that ensued after Bureau of Land Management officers tried to execute federal warrants to seize cattle owned by Bunkerville rancher Cliven Bundy on April 9, 2014.
     Three days later, the BLM sought help from Las Vegas Metro police, when armed militia who supported Bundy stopped the BLM from rounding up cattle.
     During the standoff, a Bundy supporter posted a photo of a Bundy-supporting sniper team on a freeway overpass: one man with a scoped rifle and another one acting as a spotter. The online caption stated: “The 2nd American Revolution Almost Started Today.”
     A SWAT officer who had not been sent to the standoff made a comment on the blog thread: “I just wish you could see how big that guy prone with the rifles head was in the scope of the LE Snipers .308, don’t worry, he wouldn’t have felt a thing!!”
     Quick says the bloggers were able to identify the commenter, nonparty Russell Laws, as a police officer, and mentioned it on subsequent posts on the blog thread. Quick, a police sergeant, was Laws’ supervisor.
     Laws removed his comment from the blog and notified defendant SWAT Lt. Peter Boffelli of what had happened. Boffelli counseled Laws about violating the police department’s media policy and in April transferred Laws to patrol duty, according to the complaint.
     Laws filed a grievance, which was sent to arbitration, and Quick told Las Vegas Police Protective union investigators that Laws “is a good employee, has great integrity and can still be an asset to SWAT.”
     On July 18, 2014, Quick says, Boffelli called him and asked whether he had provided a statement for the arbitration. Boffelli then accused him of being “deceitful” and a “back stabber,” according to the complaint. Boffelli then told Quick he would immediately be transferred out of SWAT, and that he should “find another home,” according to the complaint.
     Five days later, on July 23, Boffelli called Quick to his office, where Boffelli and Deputy Chief Jim Owens asked him several questions during a recorded session that Quick says was intended to “intimidate” and retaliate against him.
     Despite the alleged intimidation, Quick says, he participated in July 28, 2014, arbitration hearing for Laws and testified favorably for him, but the arbitrator ruled the transfer was an administrative move not subject to grievance proceedings.
     On Aug. 5, 2014, Quick says, Boffelli called him to his office for a “counseling session,” turned on a recording device, and “started his conversation by claiming he was not disciplining Quick for cooperating with the union.” However, Boffelli then “told Quick to explain himself.” When Quick responded that this was supposed to be just a counseling session, the meeting apparently ended.
     Quick claims that Boffelli relieved him of all duties as of July 18, 2014, making it impossible for Quick to respond to SWAT calls or earn overtime pay.
     He claims the department constructively fired him because he cooperated with the union investigation and testified favorably on behalf of the aggrieved officer during arbitration.
     He seeks compensatory and punitive damages for First and 14th Amendment violations, illegal termination of a witness, and constructive discharge.
     Quick’s attorney Andrew Rempfer could not be reached for comment over the Fourth of July holiday.
     Las Vegas Metropolitan Police do not comment on active litigation.
     Nineteen defendants are accused of up to 16 federal offenses apiece, including obstruction and extortion, arising from their participation in the 2014 armed standoff at the ranch owned by lead defendant Cliven Bundy.

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