First civil suit filed in SBPD tape scandal tells a new story
SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- ABC 57 has learned some high-ranking police officials are now claiming they are the victims in the tape scandal.
The court documents state that South Bend police officer Brian Young, his wife Sandy Young, Head of Metro Homicide Tim Corbett, Lt. David Wells and Steve Richmond are seeking damages against the City of South Bend, Former Police Chief Daryl Boykins (both professionally and personally), Former Director of Communications Karen DePaepe, and her attorney Scott Duerring.
ABC 57 talked to both DePaepe and Boykins' attorneys, who said the allegations made within the lawsuit are frivolous and lack legal merit. Both attorneys said the lawsuit was not made on good faith and intend to file counter lawsuits against, what they call, wild accusations.
From the beginning, seven months ago, the South Bend Police Department's former communications director Karen DePaepe and former police chief Darryl Boykins have maintained their innocence.
They say they did nothing wrong, but the lawsuit filed by other high-ranking police officials say otherwise.
The complaint says that the plaintiffs feel their Fourth Amendment rights have been violated by city officials who intercepted their phone calls. Officers believed that their individual lines were private and that many phone conversations they had about personal matters were recorded.
The Fourth Amendment constitutes, "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."
The lawsuit documents state, "The interception and recording of these telephone lines was not authorized by a court order." It goes on to say that the interception and recording of these phone lines was not part of any law enforcement investigation, but was rather used by Boykins to "determine whether his division chiefs were personally loyal to him and to punish anyone who might seek the job of Chief of Police."
DePaepe's lawyer reacted Wednesday, saying his client was only following protocol. "These lines had been recorded for at least two or three administrations previous and she was just following what had been in place for at least 10 years," said Duerring. The lawsuit goes on to target former chief Boykins.
It claims he used the recordings to determine who was loyal to him and punish those who wanted his job, including Steve Richmond. In the lawsuit it states Richmond interviewed for the position when Mayor Pete Buttigieg took office.
The documents go on to say that there was a confrontation in Boykins' office between him and Richmond. Then it claims that Boykins "berated him for having been disloyal to him by seeking his job and for being a "back stabber" by deriding him in his interview with Mayor Buttigieg." The lawsuit also claims Boykins threatened to fire anyone who was disloyal based on recorded conversations.
"Certainly there was no intent, on his part, to punish anybody or to cover up information. All the information that came out, came out as a result of the system breaking down," insisted Boykins' attorney Tom Dixon.
Then, there are the racial slurs that DePaepe said she heard on the tapes, which she said prompted her to bring it to the chief's attention.
As the timeline of events unfolded, ABC 57 News spoke to Boykins on several occasions. We were told by multiple sources, including DePaepe, that there were racial slurs directed towards Boykins on the tapes.
Yet, these lawsuit documents accuse Boykins of admitting to Richmond that he never heard him make any racial slurs in the recorded telephone conversations "but merely said so because his feelings were hurt."
In addition to violating their Fourth Amendment rights, the lawsuit documents also state other legal claims include unconstitutional interception of phone calls, negligence, defamation, invasion of privacy, and intentional infliction of emotional distress.