Former police officer files lawsuit against Austell PD

Ex-Austell cop whistleblower lawsuit

AUSTELL, GA -- A former Austell police officer, in an exclusive on-camera interview, explains why he's blowing the whistle on the Austell Police Department, and exposing what he calls unethical behavior of fellow lawmen.

"Things went downhill real quick," said former police officer Timothy Rioux.

Rioux says he was wrongfully fired by the Austell Police Department after raising multiple concerns against fellow officers.

In complaints obtained by 11Alive News, Rioux reported that another officer bragged about sexual exploits inside city buildings.

In a second complaint, he alleges, another officer conducted an improper felony stop and lied on the police report and affidavit.

"The way the affidavit read, it sounded like it was a high-speed chase and some different stuff went on," Rioux said. "And we actually went and reviewed the tape just to watch the event of what happened and what I saw in the video did not match what was written in the affidavit. "

Rioux believes the officers' false statements ultimately impacted the outcome of the investigation.

"That arrest ended with what I felt was an improper use of force," Rioux said. "He had felony stopped a vehicle."

A third complaint shows Rioux expressing a concern over officers working extended shifts without breaks in between. After raising the complaints, Rioux says he was demoted to work back in the jail. Although his pay and schedule didn't change, his attorney Kirby smith says the department's intentions were clear.

"I have had enough friends of mine who are police officers to know that being put in the jail is a demotion," Smith said.

Smith sent a demand letter on October 15, 2015. The next day, Rioux says he was placed on a three-day suspension and ordered to go through anger management training.

"He was insubordinate, disrespectful, and actually went as far as saying I was violent towards my captain," Rioux said.

According to his personnel file, Rioux worked over a year with the department without any disciplinary actions taken or grievances listed. He says that changed after the department received the demand letter.

"With that type of timing, it's hard to see any other reason as to why this is happening," Rioux said.

Attorney Michael Caldwell, who is representing the Austell Police Department, disputes Rioux's claims.

"The city believes that it acted entirely properly in terminating him," Caldwell said.

"So why was he fired?" asked 11Alive's LaTasha Givens.

"Officer Rioux appears to have had a lot of difficulties in dealing with his peers and his superiors," Caldwell said.

"What do you make of the disciplinary actions taken against Mr. Rioux after he made complaints? The timing of the disciplinary [actions]?" Givens asked.

"When allegations arise, they have to be investigated. We have to see what the record is and when, once the investigation is concluded and the the response to the department makes to the allegations comes out," Caldwell said. "If it happens the day after he makes a complaint, if that's the way the timing works, then that's the way the timing works."

Rioux says because of this termination on his record, it is difficult to find another job in law enforcement, and he wants it removed.

The lawyer representing the police department says he believes the motive for Rioux's lawsuit is financial gain. The Austell Police Department has 60 days to formally respond to the whistleblower lawsuit.

© 2017 WXIA-TV


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