MARANA, FORMER POLICE CHIEF, SUED FOR SLANDER - Tucson Local Media: Import

MARANA, FORMER POLICE CHIEF, SUED FOR SLANDER

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Posted: Wednesday, August 13, 2003 11:00 pm | Updated: 7:47 am, Thu Mar 24, 2011.

Marana, its police department and the town's former police chief are being sued by a Maricopa County Sheriff's Office reserve deputy who claims the chief slandered him, causing him to be suspended from his law enforcement duties and leaving him in financial ruin.

The suit, filed by Daniel A. Boudrie in Pima County Superior Court Aug. 1, claims former Marana Police Chief David R. Smith falsely told a member of the Maricopa Sheriff's Office last year that Boudrie had mistreated a juvenile prisoner when Boudrie worked for Marana Police as a volunteer reserve officer 10 years ago.

According to a letter from Boudrie attached to a claim filed with the town in January, Smith allegedly told the unidentified Maricopa official that Boudrie and another officer once left a juvenile prisoner handcuffed in the back of a patrol car while the two officers left to have lunch.

"It was also reported by Chief Smith that when I was approached during the subsequent internal investigation, I chose to quit rather than cooperate. All of this is completely false information," Boudrie wrote in the letter.

Smith retired Feb. 28 after heading the MPD for more than a decade. His departure came the same week the Arizona Department of Public Safety released results from an employee survey critical of Smith's leadership and a DPS review which found numerous problems in a high-profile death investigation the MPD conducted in 2000.

Smith now works as an instructor for Chaparral College, a for-profit junior college and trade school in Tucson. He did not return phone messages left for him at the school.

The suit alleges slander, negligence, intentional infliction of emotional distress and claims Smith and the town violated statutes governing the release of employment information.

Marana has turned the suit over to its insurance carrier, Marana Town Manager Mike Reuwsaat said. A review of the court file Aug. 8 indicates attorneys for the insurance company have yet to file a response.

Boudrie claims he was suspended Aug. 2, 2002 from his unpaid position with the Maricopa agency for more than eight months until an investigation cleared him.

A letter from the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office to Boudrie dated May 12 apologized and informed him " …the results indicate you are a victim of mistaken identity and were not the person whom the Marana Police Chief was thinking," according to a copy of the letter provided to the Northwest EXPLORER by Boudrie.

Boudrie is seeking an unspecified amount of damages in the suit and claims the false information cost him the opportunity to start a security business that employed off-duty police officers, prevented him from doing off-duty work himself, hindered him from obtaining a job for months, and may jeopardize a governmental security clearance he's seeking to maintain his current job as a security officer for a Phoenix area defense plant.

"This has just had a devastating impact on my life and my family. I've got a wife and three kids," Boudrie said in a phone interview. "My finances were destroyed, I went into debt and I had to go through the embarrassment of asking family members for money. It's just been humiliating. A nightmare."

Boudrie worked for the MPD for a year between 1992 and 1993, Marana Human Resources Director Jane Howell said, but she could not provide any other information.

"We didn't have a human resources department back then and there doesn't appear to be a file on him. I was able to get the dates of employment only because I had asked around and put together some basic information about police employees when I first started here," Howell said.

Boudrie said he was never in any trouble while working for the MPD and never had any problems with Smith.

"I was hired mostly because the town was trying to annex the areas around Ina Road at the time and they needed reserve officers to help cover the area," Boudrie said. "It was mostly just going around to these businesses and stuff. There wasn't much police work at all."

MPD Chief Richard Vidaurri, who began working for the MPD in 1994, said he had never heard of any Marana officers leaving a prisoner in a patrol car to go to lunch.

Bruce Thomas and Jerry Pipes, two officers who worked for MPD at the time Boudrie was employed, but who have since left the department, both said they had never heard of the incident.

"Leaving a kid in a patrol car and going to lunch would be pretty serious," said Thomas, who left the MPD last year after serving as a lieutenant and who now works for the Oro Valley Police Department. "I think I would have heard about something like that and I can say flatly that I never did."

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