February 19, 2014 | Vol.54 N.8

Warbis family files lawsuit against city

The family of a Lake Stevens police officer Steve Warbis filed a lawsuit on Tuesday, Feb. 11 against the City of Lake Stevens for negligently handling a lawsuit involving Officer Warbis.

The claim also charges that the City knowingly released inaccurate and false information regarding the officer and failed to correct the public record.

“It is with great remorse and disappointment that the Warbis family has been forced to file a lawsuit against the City of Lake Stevens,” said G. Benjamin Lindsey, III, the family’s attorney. The lawsuit was filed on Tuesday, Feb. 11 in Snohomish Superior Court.

“The City administration’s complete failure and incompetence in this case has damaged the reputations of my clients, impaired Officer Warbis’ ability to perform his job, and wasted taxpayer money,” Lindsey continued.

The family believes that the constituents and police officers of Lake Stevens deserve more accountability from their elected officials and current administration, according to Lindsey.

“The Warbis family believes strongly that when the actual facts are revealed that the citizens of Lake Stevens will cast a vote for change,” Lindsey said. “The family has made efforts to resolve their concerns with the City formally. It is the City who has forced this case into the courtroom.”

Despite internal investigations that exonerated Officer Warbis and his conduct during several off-duty and on-duty incidents, the City of Lake Stevens rushed to settle a claim and continued to publicly portray Mr. Warbis as a “rogue” cop, according to the lawsuit. The City had a legal duty to inform Warbis of the lawsuit settlement, but failed to do so in a timely manner. The Warbis family learned of the settlement when they were swarmed by local media, according to Lindsey.

“Independent witnesses have verified that at no time did Officer Warbis ever act unlawfully in the line of duty or off duty,” Lindsey said. “We expect police officers to act in the interest of public safety at all times. Officer Warbis did that and has continued to do that to this very day.”

The City of Lake Stevens intends to defend itself as stated in their original statement which was released on December 2, 2013 when Officer Warbis filed his claim against the city.

“Today the City of Lake Stevens received a claim for damage from Mr. and Mrs. Warbis. The City disputes these allegations and will vigorously defend itself,” The City stated in the press release. “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 employees in the course of duty. The City is unable to comment further at this time about pending litigation.”

Lake Stevens City Administrator Jan Berg reiterated the city’s position again on Thursday, Feb. 13 with the following statement,

“The City of Lake Stevens stands by its original position when it responded to the claim.”

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