WATERVILLE — A Chelan County Sheriff’s Office sergeant whose wrongful termination lawsuit against the department was partially thrown out of federal court has refiled the suit in Douglas County Superior Court.
Sgt. Mike Harris is suing the sheriff’s office for wrongful termination, retaliation, infliction of emotional distress, defamation and libel, and loss of consortium.
Harris filed the lawsuit in 2017 in U.S. Eastern District Court. The lawsuit contained complaints that fell within federal and state jurisdiction. In April a magistrate judge dismissed the federal claims and declined to rule on the state-level claims.
On Aug. 8, Harris filed a lawsuit based on the state-level claims in superior court.
Harris’ complaints stem from several incidents between 2013 and 2015.
Then-Chief of Patrol Harris in August 2013 investigated a missing M16 rifle the department bought from an Army surplus program. Harris told Army officials in 2014 the weapon was missing, which was contrary to a report from Undersheriff John Wisemore that stated the rifle was destroyed.
As a result of the missing M16, the department was suspended from the Army’s surplus program.
In February 2014, superiors suspected Harris of lying about the need to borrow confiscated drugs from the department for a drug recognition business he operated off-duty.
The department placed him on administrative leave and a week later Harris, at his request, was reassigned to his former position of sergeant. The investigation landed Harris on a Brady cop list.
Later that year, Harris was accused of violating the department’s overtime policy, which requires officers to take eight hours of rest between shifts.
He was placed on administrative leave again in January 2015 and then fired in March 2015.
After he was fired, personal items kept at the department headquarters were returned torn or ripped, and in the case of a Wenatchee Wild jersey, cut in half, the lawsuit said.
Harris was reinstated to the department in 2016 after an arbitrator ruled the department didn’t have just cause to fire Harris.
When he returned to duty, Harris initially wasn’t allowed to carry a handgun and was issued a protective vest that didn’t fit and a patrol car without functional power steering and outlet plugs, a driver’s side window that didn’t roll down, a broken headrest and a bald front tire, the lawsuit said.
Harris in the lawsuit is seeking financial relief for past and future lost wages, attorneys fees and costs, damages to be proven at trial, punitive damages and any other relief the court deems appropriate.