GREENVILLE, SC (WSPA) – A former Greenville Police officer is suing the city and the Chief of Police after being fired.
In the lawsuit, Joshua Pratt claims he was fired in retaliation for speaking out to city council members about the lack of command and directions during the Black Lives Matter protests that shutdown I-385.
Pratt said he was choked by a protester during that protest on July 9.
He says that protester is now charged with attempted murder, assault and battery on police and resisting arrest.
Pratt says he expressed his concern in department meetings and in discussions with two members of Greenville City Council.
He says Greenville Police Chief Ken Miller threatened officers with discipline for speaking against the chain of command.
A memo sent by Chief Miller says he was aware of employees talking to City Council members and that Greenville City policy requires employees to use and exhaust their chain of command to address issues.
The memo said that council members hadn’t initiated a complaint or investigation, so they would not investigate and discipline employees over the matter.
Pratt says that days later, an internal affairs investigation began over what he calls an “immaterial paperwork discrepancy.”
That “paperwork discrepancy” was over details of an arrest in Nicholtown located in the narrative of an arrest warrant and Pratt’s written report.
The arrest was a marijuana possession charge.
He says the confusion in the paperwork was related to whether the suspect ran from officers, but was not charged with an offense related to that.
The lawsuit claims “Defendant Miler stated that he thought Plaintiff was possibly acting out of a belief that the individuals at the “Nicholtown incident” were celebrating the murder of Officer Jacobs, and that Plaintiff was trying to get his ‘pound of flesh’ by arresting some.”
Allegation #2: Rules of Conduct #13: Arrest, Search and Seizure.
Allegation #3: Rules of Conduct #7: Truthfulness
The memo states:
… In considering disciplinary action for Allegations #2 & #3, the Chain of Command Board considered your actions against the Departmental Disciplinary Philosophy, which includes your motivations, the degree of harm caused by your actions, the intentionality of your actions, your experience level, and your past record. The analysis of your situation, the Chain of Command determined that your untruthfulness on the affidavit and subsequent unlawful arrest were a result of intentional deception on your part. The Chain of Command also concluded that your subsequent statements to Internal Affairs personnel investigating the allegations were deceptive. Consequently, intentional untruthfulness is an egregious violation that can undermine the very public support and trust we rely upon to conduct out work and ensure that we are safe and supported in doing it. As a result and by policy, the Department will make every effort to separate the employee from service. As a result of these finding the following disciplinary action is imposed: Termination of Employment.
Pratt is requesting a jury trial and seeking:
· Compensatory and actual damages including, but not limited to, back pay, front pay, benefits, and emotional distress.
· Punitive damages
· Attorney fees and costs
· Prejudgment and post judgment interest
· Injunctive relief
· Declaratory relief
Greenville Police Chief Ken Miller has released the following statement: “This lawsuit lacks any merit whatsoever, and the City and I intend to vigorously defend against it. There will be no further comment, as the matter is pending in litigation.”