Ex-police officer, family, sue Bainbridge police, city
January 28, 2010 · Updated 4:34 PM
The wife and son of a former Bainbridge police officer have filed suit against the city and Bainbridge Police Department for, among other claims, an arrest without probable cause, denial of the right to see an attorney and excessive force on an arrest.
Scott Anderson, who resigned from the police force in January 2008, filed a claim for damages in the amount of $1 million with the city last Dec. 31, concerning the treatment of his wife and son in separate incidents, and the resulting effects it had on his career.
Cynthia and Max Anderson, filed separate lawsuits against the city and police department in the 9th U.S. District Court in Tacoma earlier this month.
The court files, obtained by the Review through public records requests, detail a three-week time span in which Max Anderson was arrested, Cynthia Anderson was involuntarily taken to Harrison Medical Center in Bremerton for a mental examination, and Scott Anderson was later investigated for a domestic dispute with his wife. Shortly thereafter he resigned from the force.
John Muenster, a Bainbridge resident and Seattle attorney representing the Andersons, said Thursday the city has not been served the suits of Max and Cynthia Anderson, so responses detailing the other side are unavailable.
Interim City Manager Lee Walton declined to comment on the situation.
During the early morning hours of Oct. 28, 2007, Bainbridge police pulled over Max J. Anderson, son of then-officer Scott Anderson.
Max, 16 at the time, exited his car with his hands visible and told officers “he was the guy they were looking for,” according to a complaint for damages filed on Dec. 29, 2009, under Max Anderson’s name against officers Richard Christopher and Guy Roche, who are still Bainbridge police officers.
Max Anderson’s lawsuit alleges that officers drew guns on the him and ordered him to the ground. The suit claims that the force used by the two officers was unnecessary given that his charges were “not severe,” and he was unarmed at the time. Muenster said the boy was pulled over for a traffic violation. He drove into an industrial parking lot on Day Road, and attempted to get the attention of the officers when he exited his vehicle. The lawsuit said the officers exited their car and pulled their weapons.
Furthermore, the suit said the officers made the decision to arrest Max for a felony charge partly because of “who his father was and what the community would think.”
According to Scott Anderson’s claim against the city, Max Anderson was arrested for eluding a police officer.
The following day, the complaint alleged, one of the arresting officers leaked details of his arrest to several of Max Anderson’s classmates at Bainbridge High School. Scott Anderson’s claim said that he spoke with his superiors at the police department about contacting the prosecutor’s office as a concerned father of an accused minor. He was told not to call the prosecutor.
About 10 days later, according to Scott and Cynthia Anderson, Scott Anderson handcuffed his wife during a domestic dispute. He was on duty at the time.
Former Chief of Police Matt Haney responded to the scene and kept Cynthia Anderson restrained. Deputy Chief Mark Duncan arrived and took over for Haney. Both Haney and Duncan resigned from the police force in 2008 and both went to work for the Colville (Wash.) Tribal Police Department.
Duncan is no longer with Colville police.
After Duncan told Cynthia Anderson she would be detained and taken to Harrison Medical Center to undergo a mental examination, according to her lawsuit, she asked to speak to an attorney but was not allowed to do so.
Officers said she was detained because they thought she would attempt to hurt herself with a disposable razor, an accusation her suit claimed was false.
She was taken to Harrison in handcuffs in the back seat of a Bainbridge police car. The suit said this amounted to an arrest without cause, that she committed no crime and didn’t pose a danger to herself or others.
Scott Anderson’s claim against the city said he was not made aware of the events involving his wife that night.
Upon arrival at Harrison Medical Center, Cynthia Anderson was examined by a mental health professional. The examiner determined that there was no reason for her to be detained, her suit said.
According to Cynthia Anderson’s lawsuit, Bainbridge Lt. Sue Shultz attempted, through faxes and telephone calls to the examiner, to keep her detained.
The examiner again deemed it appropriate to release Cynthia Anderson.
Shultz declined to comment on the claims.
Later that day, Duncan encouraged Anderson to file a no-contact order against his wife, which he said he was reluctant to do.
A week after the incident, Scott Anderson was interviewed about his decision to cuff his wife. He declined to discuss his marriage. He also wanted his children left out of the investigation.
Following the interview, an investigator from the Port Orchard Police Department was asked by Duncan to review the incident, including speaking to the Andersons’ two sons. The investigator, according to Scott Anderson’s claim, ignored his request and attempted to talk to the boys.
A day later, Scott Anderson’s complaint said, Duncan threatened to fire him for not disclosing information about his marriage.
Scott Anderson was then put on administrative leave while the department opened an internal investigation against him.
According to Scott Anderson’s claim, he was also denied access to public records pertaining to his case.
Later, Anderson was allowed to see a portion of the reports if he promised not to tell his wife. He refused.
Scott Anderson resigned from the force two months later. Officers forced him to make a choice between his family and his career, his complaint said.
Anderson’s wife is seeking punitive and compensatory damages, and Max Anderson is asking for compensatory damages.