By JOHN M. WYLIE II
Copyright 2014 Oologah Lake Leader
A new federal lawsuit accuses a senior Rogers County Sheriff’s supervisor of falsifying statements and documents to search for drugs, then destroying the career of a deputy who refused to lie under oath to protect him, court records show.
The lawsuit, alleging violation of his First Amendment and civil rights, was filed July 8 by former deputy Brian Kindle and names the Board of County Commissioners (the avenue by which any county or its officers must be sued); Sheriff Scott Walton as both an individual and in his official capacity; Undersheriff Jon (spelled John in the lawsuit) Sappington; Capt. Adam Hull (the officer accused of falsifying his affidavit and statements); and Deputy Paul Tucker.
It seeks actual and punitive damages in excess of more than $150,000 plus legal fees and other costs. The case has been assigned to U.S. District Judge Gregory Frizzell, who already is hearing a federal lawsuit involving allegations by Claremore Police Investigator John Singer against Rogers County District Attorney Janice Steidley and several of her deputies.
Most of Singer’s claims have been dismissed but some remain active.
According to the 15-page lawsuit:
The issue originated with a drug raid in March 2012 that was conducted without a warrant, over Kindle’s objection, and led to his constructive termination when he refused to lie in court to cover up the situation.
Bits and pieces rumors about the situation have swirled about the courthouse for more than a year, but nothing could be published until the lawsuit was filed, which made the allegations a matter of public record under oath.
The plaintiff is represented by Donald Eugene Smolen II and Laura Marie Lauth of the Tulsa law firm of Smolen, Smolen & Roytman of Tulsa. The lawsuit is filed in the U.S. District Court of the Northern District of Oklahoma (Case No. 4:14-cv-374). The complete text is posted at Oologah.net .
It contends a government state torts act claim was filed Oct. 30, but no reply was made by the deadline of Jan. 28. That, it says, allows a lawsuit can be filed.
Kindle says he was employed as a deputy sheriff in March 2012 under the supervision of Sappington and Hull.
Capt. Hull asked Kindle to assist in a “knock and talk” at the residence of suspected drug dealer, Ronald Sanders. Hull said the officers would knock on the door of the residence, enter, and search when the occupant answered.
Kindle asked Hull if he had a warrant, the lawsuit says, and Hull said he did not need one because he had cleared the search with the District Attorney’s office.
They knocked at the door, a woman answered and did NOT provide consent to search, but Hull entered anyway. He and the other officers found drugs and evidence of intent to distribute.
Hull wrote and filed with the DA’s office a report on those activities.
Kindle was subpoenaed in June 2012 to appear and testify in the case, reviewed Hull’s report, and discovered that Hull had told the DA that the woman had given a consent to search the residence when she had not.
“Plaintiff knew this to be false as the woman had not given consent for the search,” the lawsuit says,
He contacted the DA’s office to advise he “could not testify in the case” bcause “he did not want to perjure himself.”
The DA’s office reviewed the case and determined that Hull had consulted the DA’s office, reviewed the case, but rather than being told he could proceed without a search warrant he was told he needed a warrant to search the house.
Kindle also said he was interviewed by speakerphone by Hull and an assistant DA, that Hull specifically
Asked if the woman “gave us consent, didn’t she,” and slammed down the phone when Kindle replied, “No.”
The DA’s office had Kindle write a report on the situation as part of an internal investigation,
In a July 2012 case, a motion was made to disclose Kindle’s situation in the Sanders case, and it was granted in January 2013. That led to the dismissal of the second case, (the Sanders case had already been dismissed).
Kindle contends that Hull and other RCSO employees and supervisors treated him unfairly because he was truthful about Hull’s conduct in the Sanders case.
He said the harassment ranged from efforts to disrupt a romantic relationship that was completely within office guidelines to berating him on open radio frequencies (something never done to other officers) to issuing chicken s**t tickets that other officers routinely issued to hiding reports so they could claim he had not turned them into hiring a private investigator to pry into his private life to harassing him over a Workers Compensation injury by claiming he was faking it.
He said he was forced to perform duties prohibited by his injury, was told he was being demoted, and was forced to resign May 28, 2013.
He is seeking a minimum of $150,000 damages plus interest, other fees and costs based on allegations of civil rights, First Amendment rights, and whistleblower rights violations.
The new lawsuit is at least the fifth state or federal court lawsuit filed in the growing corruption allegations between Claremore and the Rogers County Sheriff’s office versus the District Attorney’s Office for Roger, Mayes and Craig Counties.
A request for comment made last week to the Rogers County Sheriff’s Department Public Information Office by email was not answered by deadline, and there also was no response to a request for documents under the Oklahoma Open Records Act.