Lawsuit claims CHP harassment
Owners of a Grass Valley towing company are suing the California Highway Patrol and one of its officers, claiming they were mistreated and harassed.
“My wife and I feel our lives and livelihood are threatened and very concerned about bodily damage that (CHP officer Dave Paulus) is going to do to me,” wrote Kent Kilroy in a Feb. 25, 2000, complaint to the CHP, court records show.
Kent and Kim Kilroy, owners of Kilroy’s Towing, are suing the CHP and officer Paulus, claiming a civil rights violation, intentional interference with business relations, negligent hiring and retention, and intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress, court records show.
Tom Marshall, the CHP’s commander of public affairs, declined comment on the suit, which was filed in Nevada County Superior Court on Sept. 3 and seeks unspecified monetary damages. Paulus could not be reached for comment on two occasions.
The suit alleges that within 30 days of his placement as officer in charge of towing operators, Paulus became hostile toward the Kilroys, threatening to remove them from a referral program crucial to their business. Things escalated as Paulus made accusations at the Kilroys’ business.
“Paulus, when becoming openly upset, his face flushed with anger and his fists clenched against his service weapon, often stated in a loud and threatening voice to plaintiffs in front of customers and employees, that he ‘knew they were stealing cars, conducting illegal lien sales and selling drugs, and that he was going to get them,'” the suit stated.
Kilroy became the target of an investigation into the sale of a pickup truck – an investigation that the suit alleges damaged his business, driving away customers and employees.
The suit centers around investigations that charged Kent Kilroy with a federal weapons violation, grand theft and conspiracy charges.
The charges were dismissed by federal and superior court judges, who threw them out because of evidence that was questionable and possibly distorted.
The weapons charges were dismissed by federal Judge Lawrence Karlton of the Eastern District of California, who ruled the CHP unlawfully seized guns found in a search at the towing business. Kent Kilroy has felony convictions for embezzlement and grand theft and is not allowed to have guns. The Sacramento judge also ruled that Paulus distorted evidence in a search warrant affidavit.
Kilroy’s attorney, Etan Rosen of Sacramento, did not return phone calls requesting comment, and Kent Kilroy declined comment.
The suit makes a number of allegations, including:
— The CHP allegedly used wrongfully obtained records to call Kilroy’s customers and tell them the Kilroys were criminals, and that they must not use the services of Kilroy’s towing, according to court records.
— After searching Kilroy’s business, over 100 law enforcement officers searched Kilroy’s home, business and vehicles on March 15, 2000, court records allege, trashing Kilroy’s home, throwing Kilroy’s wife into an asthmatic attack, and terrifying their 17-year-old daughter, Jenica Rae Kilroy.
— Kilroy was arrested by the CHP on May 12, 2000, and sat at a busy intersection for 45 minutes in a police car.
The suit alleges he was intentionally “placed on display for all to see” for that 45 minutes while CHP officers joked with each other and representatives of Fisher’s Towing, Kilroy’s competitor.
— The suit claims the CHP illegally stopped Kilroy’s employees, telling them “If you were smart, you would not be working for Kilroy’s because they are criminals.”
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