MOORHEAD-A deputy and former K-9 handler with the Clay County Sheriff's Office has filed a lawsuit against the county in his ongoing efforts to return to patrol duty, an assignment he's been denied ever since the county unsuccessfully attempted to fire him.
According to the suit filed this week in Clay County District Court:
In July 2012, the county conducted an investigation into a June 2012 incident at a hotel in Eden Prairie, Minn. Clay County Deputy Ryan Carey and a group of other officers who handle police dogs were reportedly intoxicated and loud outside the Residence Inn in Eden Prairie, prompting a hotel manager to call police, according to an arbitrator's report.
Carey was questioned about the incident and claims in the suit that at all times he told the truth to the best of his ability.
The county, however, fired Carey, alleging he had made dishonest statements regarding the incident at the hotel. The union representing the deputy responded with a grievance.
In March 2013, an arbitrator upheld the grievance and gave Carey his job back, ruling that while there were minor discrepancies between what Carey told an investigator and other evidence relating to the incident at the hotel, there was no reason to believe Carey lied to the investigator.
The night manager at the hotel testified in an arbitration hearing that Carey was the officer at the poolside gathering who had set off his squad car siren causing his dog, Cuda, to bark. But a Wabasha County deputy testified in the same hearing that he was the officer responsible for the siren going off and the barking dog, according to the arbitrator's report.
According to the arbitrator's report, Clay County authorities - in addition to citing the hotel incident as among the causes Carey was fired - also took issue with Carey's denial that he sent texts about the investigation to a fellow deputy, despite being told not to discuss it with anyone other than his union representative or his attorney.
Carey admitted to investigators that he had called the deputy but denied he had texted him, which he had, the report said.
Because of the arbitration findings, Carey kept his job, but the county declared him a "Brady officer," meaning he would not be given patrol duties because a defense attorney on any case he handled could try to use the hotel incident to question his integrity and discredit his testimony.
Instead, Carey, an officer in the department since 2001, was given a security position at the Clay County Courthouse.
Carey has since applied for at least seven patrol positions and made attempts through his union to have the "Brady officer" designation changed, but the moves have been unsuccessful and he remains in the court security position.
The suit seeks to have the "Brady officer" status dropped. It also seeks to bar the county from refusing to consider Carey for assignments outside of court security.
Clay County Attorney Brian Melton declined to comment, stating the county will be filing an answer to the suit.
It's the second time the Carey family has sued the county over the fallout from his firing. The deputy's wife sued Clay County in 2015, seeking reimbursement for medical bills stemming from Cuda attacking the couple's 4-year-old son after Carey had been initially fired.
The lawsuit argued that since Carey was reinstated as a deputy, Cuda still should have been the county's property at the time of the attack and should be liable for the medical bills.
Noting that Carey had voluntarily taken possession of Cuda after he was fired, a judge dismissed the lawsuit.