By Alex Haglund
Former Nashville Police Department Lieutenant Greg Hopfinger has brought a civil case against his superior, Police Chief Brian Fletcher, and against the City of Nashville in a lawsuit filed in United States District Court for the Southern District of Illinois on February 12.
Hopfinger was dismissed from the Police Department, along with his wife, Melissa, the Department’s Administrative Assistant, in August of 2017.
There was some outcry to the dismissals, with some members of the public coming to meetings of the Nashville City Council seeking answers, but the city stayed quiet, citing confidentiality due to personnel matters. The Hopfingers also did not attend these meetings.
The case now brought by Hopfinger alleges that Fletcher and the city of Nashville violated his civil rights by firing him afteer he relayed concerns regarding Fletcher’s conduct to the Mayor of Nashville, then Ray Kolweier, and to two members of the City Council, Josh Fark and Erik Rolf, the current Mayor.
The lawsuit is case 3:18-cv-00257 and the civil complaint can be read at nash-news.com/community/notices/u-s-district-court-summons-case-318-cv-00257/.
The items below are followed by which page number of the document that those claims can be found on.
The case states that Hopfinger told Kolweier, Rolf and Fark that Fletcher had:
• Falsified state firearms qualifications records (page 3)
• Did not pay bills owed by the department, resulting in the city being placed in collection (Page 4)
• Misappropriation of donated funds (page 4)
• An officer had gotten drunk and passed out in the McDonald’s drive through, the incident was not reported in the LAWMAN system (page 5)
• Non payment of overtime hours and payment of overtime hours not worked (page 5)
• Failed to report a high school student robbed at gunpoint (page 6)
• Assigning officers to assist him with moving furniture, rather than monitoring the elementary school crosswalk (page 6)
• Attempting to get a ticket dropped for a friend (page 6)
After reporting these items, the suit alleges that Fletcher had other officers monitor Hopfinger’s time using the department’s LAWMAN system, that he told Hopfinger that he did not trust him, and that Hopfinger had been told by others in the department that Fletcher was trying to fire him. After the dismissal, the case alleges that Fletcher made public comments that the reason for Hopfinger’s dismissal was criminal.
The counts alleged in the suit include that the city and Fletcher violated Hopfinger’s first amendment rights, that the city was in breach of contract with Hopfinger, that the city and Fletcher violated the Illinois Whistleblower Act, that Hopfinger was dismissed as retaliation for this whistleblowing, and that both Fletcher and the city committed defamation against Hopfinger with regards to the cause for the firing.
Following the filing, Hopfinger and his lawyer, Ferne P. Wolf of Sowers and Wolf, LLC, St. Louis, Mo., did not have a comment regarding the case’s specifics. Rolf, Fark and the City of Nashville could not be reached for comment. Fletcher said that he could not comment on the case at this time.
The complaint filed in the case requires a response in one form or another from the defendants by March 8, 2018.