Lake Stevens Journal - Your hometown newspaper since 1960

 

By Pam Stevens
Managing Editor 

Lake Stevens police officer files claim alleging city defamed him

 


Lake Stevens Police officer Steve Warbis filed a claim on Monday, December 2, stating that officials at the City of Lake Stevens tainted his reputation as a police officer.

In the claim made by Warbis and his wife, Marlo, it states that, “Every member of the Warbis household has been harmed by the City’s conduct.”

The claim also states that, “Steve Warbis’s professional reputation has been ruined by the City actions, inaction and passive approval of false and defamatory statements by others.”

The Warbis’s are being represented by Lake Stevens attorney G. Benjamin Lindsey III, who wrote in the claim that, “The cumulative result of the City’s errors is that Warbis has been continually portrayed as a rogue and hot-headed cop, something that is completely contrary to the truth and case facts.” It also states that, “the city failed to correct the public record with the media after stories in local media were published.”

The city plans to defend itself stating, “The City disputes these allegations and will vigorously defend itself.”

The City also insists that they do not ignore any accusations made against its police officers.

“The City of Lake Stevens does not ignore allegations received of police inappropriate conduct both on or off duty and takes such matters very seriously. The City also defends appropriate action taken by its employee’s in the course of duty,” the city’s statement reads.

Warbis was one of the officers involved in the civil lawsuit against the city where plaintiff Brendon Fenter received a $100,000 settlement from the city accusing Warbis and his fellow officer of misconduct.

Fenter alleged that Warbis and another Lake Stevens Police officer arrested him illegally at his home after an altercation the day before when Warbis, who was off-duty at the time, reportedly stopped Fenter as he was driving in Marysville in June of 2011.

Fenter was arrested and jailed, however, reckless driving charges later were dropped.

The 2011 internal investigation done by the Lake Stevens Police Department did conclude that Warbis did not violate any laws.

Warbis feels that the city defamed him during these proceedings.

The claim states that the city, “incompetently or deliberately provided the media with glaringly inaccurate and false information regarding incidents involving Officer Warbis despite internal investigations that proved that certain public statements and legal claims were in fact false.”

The claim alleges that the city did not handle Warbis’s defense properly and that the claim against him was “meritless”.

While Warbis’s claim against the city does not specify a specific monetary amount it does state, “Financial damages can be difficult to assess at the outset for cases involving defamation and loss future earning capacity; however, based on the City’s conduct in this case, a seven-figure –damages judgment is not unreasonable.”

“We intend to hold the City of Lake Stevens accountable for its misconduct and providing false public statements that have damaged my clients,” said G. Benjamin Lindsey III. “At no time did the City properly handle the legal defense of Mr. Warbis or move to correct the public record regarding Mr. Warbis,” . “In fact, the City administration’s complete failure and incompetence in this case has damaged the reputations of my clients, impaired Officer Warbis’s ability to perform his job, and wasted taxpayer money.”

 

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