Bridget Caffery claims the city backed off promises not to fire her, and that the former chief invaded her privacy.
Columbia, SC (WLTX) - A former Columbia Police Department crime analyst is suing the city and former Chief Randy Scott, claiming the city went back on their word that she wouldn't be terminated and that her privacy was invaded.
Lawyers for Bridget Caffery filed the suit in Richland County last Friday.
Caffery, 24, was an intelligence analyst for the police department for two years. She says on January 31 of this year, she was forced to resign.
Her name was mentioned multiple times in the recent investigative report by the State Law Enforcement Division into claims of misconduct within the Columbia Police Department. The probe looked at allegations made by former Columbia Police Captain David Navarro that Interim Columbia Police Chief Ruben Santiago had tried to frame a public official. However, the investigation found no evidence of wrongdoing by Santiago. It also cleared Navarro of claims that he illegally taped conversations.
During the investigation, it was revealed that Caffery had recorded a conversation involving members of the police department.
In the suit, her attorneys acknowledge that she made the recording because she said she was afraid of Scott. In the document, she says she and Scott were in a relationship that lasted from October of 2011 to May of 2013.
Caffery says during their relationship, Scott had a city-owned GPS tracking device put on her personal car to keep track of her movements.
"We think that is a gross invasion of her privacy and we think it's redressable under invasion of privacy under a common law claim," said Paul Porter, one of Caffey's lawyers.
Scott resigned as police chief in April of 2013. He currently works as a deputy with the Richland County Sheriff's Department.
In December of 2013, Caffery was arrested on a DUI charge. When she was pulled, she asked that Scott and Santiago be notified. She says when she returned to work, she told her supervisors about the arrest, but she was not disciplined.
"When someone says that you're going to be okay, you're not going to be terminated, get back to work and you do get back to work, you rely on that," said Porter. "You don't go looking for other jobs, you stay the course, especially people who say that that you should believe and should have a right to believe, that constitutes a promise.
However, her suit claims Scott told Navarro to leak news of the arrest to the media in January. She says initially, she was still told by senior officers that she had nothing to worry about, but that changed.
"She was promised that she had not done anything warranting termination and she was promised that by her top brass who we believe have the authority to make that promise," said Porter. "Then that promise was broken shortly thereafter."
On January 31, she said the city leadership told her that she had to resign or she would be fired immediately, and she chose to resign.
Her attorneys say they want damages including back pay and benefits, a reinstatement to a similar position, and payment for emotional distress.
News19 reached out to Scott and the city. Scott has not responded as of Tuesday evening. The city responded by saying they do not comment on pending litigation.