Lawsuit: Former Police Chief Conducted Illegal Database Searches Of Former Councilman
Former Casper Police Chief Chris Walsh conducted illegal database searches about former City Councilman Craig Hedquist, he said in a federal lawsuit filed Monday against Walsh and the city.
"As a result of learning that his information had been obtained and viewed on multiple occasions without a legitimate law enforcement purpose by Defendants, Plaintiff has suffered emotional distress, feeling victimized, nervous, angry, anxious and fearful for his safety and the safety of his family and associates," according to the complaint filed by Hedquist's attorneys Frank Chapman, Marci Bramlet and John Robinson.
Hedquist, who learned about the searches on Sept. 9, is seeking actual and punitive damages from Walsh and the city.
According to the complaint, the police department pays for a national database called TLOxp, which requires law enforcement agencies to comply with laws that require subscribers use it for actions such as protecting against fraud; investigating matters related to public safety; or acting on behalf of federal, state or local courts.
But at 3:27 p.m., July 29, 2013, Walsh asked a police department employee to conduct a TLO search using Hedquist's name.
The resulting 124-page report included his full name, date of birth, Social Security number, phone numbers, email addresses, employers, physical addresses, personal and professional property information, vehicle information, U.S. business and corporation affiliations, Uniform Commercial Code filings, Secretary of State information, 63 possible relatives, 18 possible associates, and neighbors' phones.
The relatives, associates and neighbors were identified by their full names, Social Security-related information, phone numbers, emails and addresses. The search included information about the neighbors on the road where his mother lives.
Other categories were searched but yielded no information: criminal and bankruptcy records, judgments, aircraft records, hunting permits and weapons permits.
Before the TLO search, Walsh used the police department's records management system -- called Spillman -- six times to search for information on Hedquist, according to the complaint. (Walsh also used the Spillman system on Sept. 13, 2012, and Nov. 15, 2012 before and after the general election when Hedquist was elected to Ward II.)
A week after the TLO search, Walsh discussed the information with former City Manager John Patterson, who called Hedquist "my favorite council member," according to the complaint.
Yet Walsh told Hedquist's attorney in a deposition conducted for a separate federal lawsuit that such searches are illegal. That other lawsuit is scheduled for trial on June 19.
The complaint also states people employed by multiple law enforcement agencies in Natrona County used the Spillman system more than 40 times to conduct searches on Hedquist and his company from July 1, 2012, to Sept. 1, 2016.
City offices were closed when K2 Radio learned of the lawsuit, and it was not possible to get a response.