Former police officer files $1 million damage claim against Yakima

Former police officer files $1 million damage claim against Yakima »Play Video
YAKIMA, Wash. -- A former police officer wants Yakima to pay him $1 million.

Richard Schuknecht was arrested and briefly detained three years ago for getting too close to his estranged wife. He claims he was targeted by Yakima Corrections Director Ed Campbell.

Schuknecht sued Campbell personally last month. A day later, he filed a notice of damages against the City of Yakima seeking a million dollars. It's not a lawsuit, but it could precede one if there's no settlement.

"Short of the city doing something unheard of, and that is admitting that they did this wrong and there was police misconduct, there will be litigation to follow," said Schuknecht's attorney, Bill Pickett.

Yakima downplays the case. Assistant City Attorney Helen Harvey responded to KIMA in a statement saying, "The City's position is that the officers had probable clause for the arrest. If the city is sued, the city will defend the claim."

Yakima is no stranger to legal claims brought by officers. Three other police lawsuits are currently pending.

Since 2011, five others were settled, including a $350,000 payout to Officer Rey Garza. Garza claimed he was the victim of retaliation after blowing the whistle on a superior officer under then-chief Sam Granato.

Three other officers, including Captain Rod Light, agreed to a $160,000 settlement in 2011 for claims of retaliation and other mistreatment. Another case was dismissed earlier this month by the Washington State Court of Appeals.

Schuknecht's attorney expects the city to push back.

"When you fight against inappropriate police misconduct, you can expect a battle and we're prepared for that."

Another battle that could cost Yakima taxpayers more money.

Schuknecht pleaded guilty to two counts of harassment last year. That was for making threats to Campbell and his wife. He retired from the force a little more than a year ago.