Thursday, June 11, 2020

Former police sergeant disputes firing in lawsuit

A fired Westland police sergeant has filed a lawsuit claiming that his former coworkers and supervisors conspired to blame him for the death of a prisoner in custody at the jail.
Ronald Buckley, 55, claims in his suit filed in federal court last month, that Police Chief Jeff Jedrusik, other police command officers and other officers involved in the 2017 arrest and incarceration of William Marshall maliciously conspired against him, ending his 24-year police career.  Marshall, 35, was arrested Dec. 10, 2017 during a traffic stop when drugs were found by officers in his possession.
He was transported by the arresting officers to the Westland jail where he complained of stomach pains. Just before, or during, the traffic stop, he swallowed a small baggie of cocaine, according to an independent investigation of the incident. The arresting officers removed traces of the drug from Marshall's lips and mouth and entered it into evidence bags.
Buckley maintains in his lawsuit that he was not informed that Marshall might have ingested the drugs. Marshall complained of stomach pains and eventually went into convulsions in the jail cell. The first visit from EMTs, about 90 minutes after his entry into the jail, resulted in no treatment for him. Paramedics, who had not taken his vital signs at the first visit, were called back to the jail a second time, at 9:29 a.m., about 3 hours after he entered the jail, and observed Marshall in his cell, unresponsive and without a pulse. They began life-saving measures including defibrillation and transported him to a hospital where he was pronounced dead on arrival. The EMTs claim they were not told that Marshall might have ingested drugs. Buckley also claims that he was never told by the arresting officers that Marshall could have ingested drugs.
Marshall's death prompted protests outside Westland City Hall and the jail. The city settled a lawsuit with Marshall's family paying $3.75 million last year.
In his lawsuit, Buckley claims that he has interviewed for 17 law enforcement or security positions but cannot find employment despite having been cleared of manslaughter and misconduct charges filed in relation to Marshall's death. He also cites several disabilities including a work-related injury and cancer. He claims city officials were aware of the physical situations.
 “After Mr. Marshall's death, defendants reached an agreement amongst themselves to frame Sgt. Buckley for the death, to  thereby deprive Sgt. Buckley of his constitutional rights,” according to the lawsuit.
 “Sgt. Buckley was wrongfully terminated after a 24-year career in civil service and maliciously prosecuted by his own department in order to provide defendants a necessary scapegoat and ease public pressure after a terrible tragedy at the Westland Jail,” his attorneys say in the suit. “This misconduct was undertaken with malice, willfulness, and reckless indifference to Sgt. Buckley's rights.”