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Ex-West Melbourne police chief sues city over termination

Cox Media Group, WFTV 9,
Link to Article

West Melbourne, FL


The former West Melbourne police chief is suing the city and several council members over his firing last week.

The council voted 5-2 to terminate Brian Lock, saying he didn't discipline or arrest one of his commanders, who was caught stealing drugs from an evidence room.

In the lawsuit filed in Orlando federal court, Lock, however, accuses council members Stephany Eley and Michael Hazlett and Mayor Hal Rose of scheming to fire him because he didn't fire a police employee who donated to their political opponent in 2010.

The suit also claims Lock's right to due process was violated.

“As a policy, we don't respond to active litigation, but it's not uncommon for a city to say it terminated an employee for cause and the employee claim it's an unlawful reason,” said City Manager Scott Morgan.

Under his contract, Lock could only be terminated for cause, which the city believes it found in an alleged drug theft inside the evidence room of Lock's department. The officer involved was never criminally charged, but Lock's lawsuit presents evidence that the matter was brought to the attention of the state attorney's office.

The city spent roughly $20,000 on an outside attorney who determined Lock could be fired for "misfeasance."

Now, the lawsuit could cost the city another $25,000. It will be represented by the Florida League of Cities.

Lock is seeking damages and attorney’s fees in excess of $75,000.

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