Three strikes on Shipley
 

Cookeville faces third civil rights case 

       Former Police Chief Holt wants $2.25 million and his job back

By GEOFF DAVIDIAN
Putnam Pit editor
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. -- Former Police Chief Richard M. Holt and his wife, Edith M.
Holt, filed a $2.25 million federal civil rights complaint on Tuesday, April 15, naming Cookeville City Manager Jim Shipley, individually and in his capacity as city manager, and the city of Cookeville.

Holt also asks in the suit for his job back, back pay and punitive damages.

The complaint, filed in U.S. District Court in Nashville, alleges that Shipley failed to
take action when Holt found sexual harassment, assault and other crimes by certain
supervisors in the Police Department, "specifically [former captain Wayne Bandy]."

According to the complaint: "In April, 1996, Chief of Police, Richard Holt, in response to serious accusations by an employee began an internal investigation into allegations of assault, sexual harassment, civil rights violations, breach of contract and physical abuse by superior employees, including Captain Wayne Bandy. Specifically, Bandy and other middle management officers continually hit, slapped and threw objects at employees placed employees in 'vascular neck restraints' until they fainted; asked employees for sexual favors; spanked female employees and held a gun to employees' heads."

Subsequently, Police Officer Reno Martin, one of the abused employees, filed a civil
action and obtained a restraining order in conjunction with that suit. According to the complaint, Holt took the matter to the FBI after Shipley and the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation refused to act. In response, the complaint alleges, "the City of Cookeville, by and through its agent, Jim Shipley, discharged and terminated Holt solely for refusing to remain silent about the illegal activities within the Department." See Shipleyspeak.

There are three civil rights suits pending against the city and its officials, all filed
since Shipley became city manager and T. Michael O'Mara became city attorney about two years ago. In total, the city and its officials, and state taxpayers through the Tennessee Municipal League, stand to lose about $8 in damages, on top of payments Cookeville must make to the League for legal fees.

Bettye Vaden, a member of the city council, said Shipley did not respond to her pages on Tuesday to have Shipley contact The Pit.

Vaden said that while the council was aware of the three suits she had not see a
connection through them.

She said that it had been anticipated Holt would file a lawsuit some months ago, but
because so much time had elapsed since his firing it came as a surprise.

Vaden did not comment on the suit because the city has not been served with the
complaint and she had not seen it.

Meanwhile, sources tell The Pit there is a move underway to get Bandy onto the Drug Task Force, despite the weapon-related allegations in the civil rights complaint. Clearly, the source inside the police department said, someone is watching over Bandy.

The question now is how long before Shipley gets the axe?

See related links: Bandy and Davidian.