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May 27, 2005

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Publication Date: Friday, May 27, 2005

Former police officer sues for wrongful termination Former police officer sues for wrongful termination (May 27, 2005)

Officer says he was fired in retaliation for refusing to falsify report

City officials are continuing their investigation into a former Pleasanton police officer's allegations of wrongful. Clay Smith filed a wrongful termination suit against the police department April 11 at Alameda Superior Court in Oakland. The suit claims that he was fired in retaliation for refusing to falsify a police report and cover up the violation of a robbery suspect's rights. No damages are specified, but Smith will seek compensation for wages lost and stress, said Smith's attorney Jean Hyams.

"He essentially lost his career as a police officer because it is virtually impossible for a police officer to get a job once he's been terminated," Hyams said.

Smith is currently working as an auto mechanic, the career he had before becoming a police officer, Hyams said.

"Unfortunately, because of the pending litigation, we cannot comment on the suit," said Police Chief Tim Neal. "But we have looked into the allegations and don't believe they have any merit."

Smith responded to a strong-arm robbery on the morning of Feb. 27, 2004 and was approached by a sergeant later that day who asked him to change the report, according to the suit. After refusing to comply, Smith said he was subjected to harassment and public humiliation before being placed on a three-month performance improvement plan. Two-weeks into the program, Smith was fired Aug. 17, 2004.

Smith filed a claim in December and it was rejected by the city, Neal said. This action lead to the filing of the lawsuit.

"We are taking depositions up to the top ranks of the department and probably into the city administration to find out how high the decision making went in terms of his complaints of the falsification being ignored and the decision to terminate him," Hyams said, adding that the case is expected to go to trial early next year. -Rebecca Guyon

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