A federal judge has ruled that Columbia Police Chief Randy Scott did not violate an officers civil rights when he demoted for getting paid for special security details while on the clock.
U.S. District Judge Margaret Seymour dismissed the lawsuit filed in August 2011 by Master Police Officer Andre Williams. Williams was a 20-year veteran of the department and was a sergeant in charge of the departments K9 unit when he was demoted in April 2011.
Scott demoted Williams two ranks after it was discovered that he got paid to escort funeral processions while on duty for the department. A review of Williams time sheets found 20 instances of double-dipping, according to court documents.
The incident led Scott to create a formal policy for officers who work off-duty security assignments.
Williams went through the citys grievance process for employees who do not agree with disciplinary action, but the demotion was upheld.
In his lawsuit, Williams said the practice of accepting special duty assignments while on the clock was widespread and accepted practice.
He said he was singled out for punishment as retaliation for his public opposition to a proposed merger between the police department and the Richland County Sheriffs Department.
Scott, a 16-year sheriffs department veteran, was hired as chief after the merger idea fizzled. He had been Sheriff Leon Lotts chief deputy.
In her ruling, Seymour said Williams was fired for double-dipping, not for speaking out. As a result, his free speech rights were not violated. He also failed to show that the accusations against him were false or published in a stigmatizing fashion, she wrote.
Williams remains a Columbia police officer.
Reach Phillips at (803) 771-8307.