A lawsuit has been filed in U.S. District Court in Seattle against the City of Lake Stevens and two of its police officers, Steve Warbis and James Wellington, claiming that the officers violated the civil rights of a Lake Stevens man last year.
The plaintiffs in the lawsuit are Brandon and Tiffany Fenter.
According to the lawsuit Warbis and his family were walking “on the wrong side of the roadway” along 83rd Ave. NE in Marysville when Fenter drove past them on June 20, 2011 and Warbis “jumped into the roadway to wave Mr. Fenter down.”
The lawsuit alleges that Warbis, who was off-duty at the time, approached the Fenter’s vehicle and began to question Fenter. Warbis told him he would be issuing him a traffic citation in the mail for reckless driving. “…it was good as done” the suit says.
Fenter was then allowed to drive away.
The Fenter’s lawsuit states that the next evening two police officers, Warbis and Wellington, showed up at their back gate and Warbis stated, “Remember me?” The officers allegedly began to threaten and use explicit language at the Fenters “demanding that he (Fenter) come outside of his house to be arrested.”
Officers Warbis and Wellington then went onto the Fenter property, after breaking down their back gate and arrested Fenter, placed him in their patrol car and took him to Marysville jail where he was placed into a jail cell, the lawsuit continues.
Marysville Court later dismissed the charges.
The officers had no search or arrest warrant.
“Police officers cannot enter a person’s residence without a proper warrant signed by a judge,” Justin Monro, attorney for the Fenters said.
According to the lawsuit the Fenters are suing for the following reasons: Violation of Fenter’s Constitutional rights, infliction of emotional distress, assault and battery, unlawful imprisonment, false arrest, malicious prosecution and negligence.
An internal investigation was performed by former Police Chief Randy Celori.
“The City of Lake Stevens does not ignore allegations received of police misconduct both on or off duty and takes such matters very seriously,” Lake Stevens City Administrator Jan Berg said in a statement. “Officers Warbis and Wellington are on active duty as of today. While the City is in current litigation, we are not able to comment any further on the matter.”