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Nagel fires back: Former detective files federal lawsuit against city, police chief

Thomas Nagel1 / 2
Scott Edinger, Chief of Police, Jamestown Police Department2 / 2

A former Jamestown Police Department detective who was terminated in March 2016 for violating 19 policies filed a civil suit in federal district court claiming his termination violated his civil rights.

According to court documents, the suit was filed on April 4 in U.S. District Court, District of North Dakota, against the city of Jamestown and Police Chief Scott Edinger.

Nagel, who now lives in Mandan, N.D., alleges that the city and Edinger violated his First and 14th Amendment rights under the U.S. Constitution, violated his rights under Article 1, Sections 1, 4, 5 and 9 of the North Dakota Constitution, and violated North Dakota Administrative Code Chapter 4-07-19.

Nagel is seeking $300,000 in damages, court documents say.

Edinger declined to comment about the civil suit Tuesday.

A call to Nagel Tuesday evening was not returned.

Marshall H. Tanick, a Minneapolis attorney who is representing Nagel in this lawsuit with Jamestown attorney Joseph Larson II, said the city and Edinger’s retaliation against Nagel was due in part to his “vigorous” pursuit of grievances as president of the North Dakota Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 4, the local union that represents Jamestown police officers.

“The main basis of the lawsuit is that Mr. Nagel was the subject of illegal retaliation because he spoke to the media,” Tanick said, “which was done with the knowledge and request of the chief. We feel that by discharging him, the real reason he was discharged was because he spoke to the media, not because of any alleged falsification or dishonesty on his part.”

Tanick said Nagel maintains he was truthful and the city is retaliating against him for speaking to the media and his work with the Fraternal Order of Police.

Nagel’s termination resulted from internal investigations by the Jamestown Police Department and Stutsman County Sheriff’s Office into an anonymous tip made to the KVLY Valley News Live Whistleblower Hotline. The tip accused a sheriff’s deputy and the son of Stutsman County Sheriff Chad Kaiser of improperly using a Jet Ski owed by Stutsman County. The allegations were proven false as the county didn’t own a Jet Ski.

The investigations attempted to determine who made the allegation and if there were any violations of department policy or the North Dakota Peace Officers’ Code of Conduct.

Nagel said in his federal lawsuit he was not the source of the information provided to the Whistleblower Hotline and didn’t know who provided the information.

In his federal lawsuit, Nagel said as president of the North Dakota Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 4 he was active in multiple grievances and complaints regarding practices of the Jamestown Police Department’s administration. He said he also filed grievances and complaints against the police department and Stutsman County personnel. The suit said Nagel made a complaint against Casey Bradley, Stutsman County auditor/chief operating officer, which was one of the reasons cited for his termination.

Nagel alleges that Edinger given him permission to talk to a reporter from KVLY Valley News Live in Nagel’s capacity as president of the Fraternal Order of Police. The lawsuit states since the action taken by Edinger and the city of Jamestown was taken based in part on him speaking to the television news reporter, Nagel’s First Amendment rights were violated. This action is also an alleged violation of the Federal Civil Rights Act, according to the lawsuit

Nagel alleges he had a “property interest” in his employment with the city, and the city and Edinger failed to provide notice and a pretermination hearing to Nagel before his termination. Nagel alleges the department relied on multiple undocumented complaints against him, many of which were made months before his termination. He alleges that since his termination was based upon factual findings that weren’t supported by evidence, his right to due process under the 14th Amendment was violated.

Chris Olson

Hometown: Traverse City, MI College: Northwestern Michigan College and Michigan State University

(701) 952-8454