Judge denies defamation claims in wiretappingJune 10, 2019
By The Associated Press
SOUTH BEND — A northern Indiana judge has ruled that a former South Bend councilman did not defame four police officers targeted in a long-running wiretapping case when he sought a federal probe of potential racial bias in the police department.
The four white South Bend police officers sued Henry Davis Jr. in 2014, alleging that he damaged their reputations with his letter to the Department of Justice, the South Bend Tribune reported.
“Henry Davis’ actions were in his individual capacity and a rouge attempt to damage the plaintiffs by said unfounded allegations,” the officers’ suit read.
But Judge Margot Reagan agreed with Davis’ defense under the anti-SLAAP law and wrote that Tim Corbett, Steve Richmond, Dave Wells and Brian Young did not provide enough proof to verify their claim.
“Because Davis Jr.’s letter to the DOJ was written in good faith to encourage a law enforcement inquiry, Davis Jr.’s letter was privileged, and this privilege completely defeats the officers’ defamation claim against him,” Reagan wrote.
The officers’ phone lines were tapped in 2010 and 2011. They sued the city, arguing the wiretap recordings were illegal, and sought to block their release. That case is ongoing.
The police tape dispute, the demotion and ultimate firing of South Bend’s first African-American police chief, Darryl Boykins, and the death of an African-American man in police custody increased the community’s concerns, according to Davis.
In July 2012, Michael Anderson died by choking while in police custody. Davis submitted his letter to the DOJ the next month.
Davis was serving on the South Bend Common Council when he sent the letter. Many of his constituents had expressed concern about police treatment of African Americans.
The officers’ attorney, Dan Pfeifer, couldn’t be reached for comment.
In a statement issued Thursday, Davis said he was satisfied with the court’s decision and that he received his fair day in court.
More on DuboisCountyHerald.com
At an age when most women decide to retire from the sport, Joanie Mundy of Huntingburg decided...
Recently, I came to terms with the fact that I am a son who’ll never be as successful as his...
From 1952 to 1956, Herb Welp was surrounded by nature unlike the kind found in Southwest...
When Tanner Kane went to his first rodeo, he thought he was just going to watch.
The Rotary Club of Jasper, hosting its eighth annual ATHENA International Leadership Award...
Doctors are unsure how Brian Arensman contracted the flesh-eating bacteria that took both his...
Jason Stamm recognizes the region has a need for a new baseball league: one that would offer...
The administrative team at Southeast Dubois Schools will welcome two new members this fall when...