Principal Calls Police Way Out of Line

     FARGO, N.D. (CN) – Police denied a high school principal food, water and sleep and destroyed evidence after falsely arresting and interrogating him about a school fire, costing him his job, he claims in court.
     Thomas Sander sued the City of Dickinson and three of its police officers on Monday in Federal Court.
     Sander was principal of Trinity High School when a fire started in a vault in the school’s main office area on March 3, 2014.
     Over the next three days, police “seized, confined, and subjected [him] to unreasonable force, including coercive, threatening, and intimidating interrogation,” Sander says in the civil rights complaint.
     He claims the defendants even refused to let him go to the bathroom to coerce him into a false confession, and that they refused to let him speak with an attorney.
     Sander says his false confession was forced from him by “severe sleep deprivation and intimidation.”
     “The sole basis for probable cause that existed for his arrest and subsequent confinement was the coerced false confession that came as the result of unreasonable force and coercion by defendants,” he says.
     The defendant police detectives are Kylan Klauzer, Jeremy Moser and Terry Oestreich.
     Sander claims that shortly after they browbeat him into the false confession, the police department received: “1) a handwritten note from an individual claiming to have started the Trinity Fire; 2) more than one telephone call from an individual who indicated that he was author of the note and the arsonist; and 3) an in-person and unprompted voluntary confession to starting the Trinity Fire from the same individual.”
     In addition, Sander says, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms investigated and found his confession inconsistent with its findings about how and where the fire started.
     Nonetheless, Dickinson police “colluded to prosecute Sander in a crime they knew, or reasonably should have known, he did not commit,” and “discouraged the disclosure of, and intentionally disregarded, information regarding the individual who voluntarily confessed to starting the Trinity fire,” according to the complaint.
     Though police claimed they had informed Sander of his Miranda rights, a Stark County District Judge disagreed and found his confession inadmissible, The Dickinson Press reported on Tuesday.
     Sander says he was exonerated of all charges, but his career and reputation were irreparably damaged, and Trinity High School fired him.
     He seeks punitive damages on 19 counts, including constitutional violations, false arrest and imprisonment, malicious prosecution, emotional distress, abuse of process, negligence, willful misconduct and deceit.
     He is represented by Ryan Shaffer, with Meyer, Shaffer & Stepans, of Missoula, Mont.
     Neither Trinity High School nor the Dickinson Police responded to requests for comment.

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