Former Kemah officers say firings politically motivated, sue city

John Suayan, Galveston Bureau Mar. 24, 2011, 9:42am

GALVESTON – Four former Kemah police officers say their dismissal from the force was politically motivated.

Erika Yates, Greg Nolan, Rick McCollum and Sam Hodges are suing the city of Kemah and Kemah Mayor Matthew D. Wiggins, alleging the defendants violated their First and Fourteenth Amendment rights when they terminated them two years ago.

Their suit was filed March 15 in the federal Galveston Division of the Southern District of Texas.

In the original petition, the plaintiffs dispute the defendants' claims that the firings were in response to budget constraints in the aftermath of Hurricane Ike. They argue that the city fired them because at an election-related "meet and greet" they questioned a city council candidate aligned with Wiggins about the lack of food and supplies for the officers during the Category 2 storm.

The suit alleges the city purchased bicycles and four wheelers and created a new supervisory position less than two months after the officers' terminations. The plaintiffs, who were members of the Kemah Police Officer's Association, were not rehired or even contacted about returning to the force in accordance to the defendants' reduction in force policy, the suit states.

The former officers seek unspecified monetary damages and a jury trial.

Attorney Gregory B. Cagle of League City is representing the plaintiffs, and U.S. District Court Judge Kenneth M. Hoyt is presiding over the case.

Case No. 3:11-cv-00123

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