An ex-SWAT deputy is filing a $1M suit against Davis County, his former employer, claiming the county breached a settlement agreement to keep his shortcomings as an officer of the law secret. Those shortcomings stem from disciplinary actions against Clint Douglas Shaw over his “misconduct” during a SWAT incident.
In the 2012 incident, the SWAT team which Shaw was a member, confronted a barricaded armed and suicidal man. Officers were able to draw the suspect out and take him into custody. Despite the actions of other officers to successfully de-escalate the situation, Shaw left his assigned post nearby and approached the suspect unleashing derogatory remarks in his direction. Court records indicate that Shaw’s actions only served to further agitate the suspect “which resulted in the creation of havoc rather than decompressing the situation” said Sheriff Todd Richardson. The sheriff disciplined Shaw for “spinning things up with verbal altercations” and blamed officers’ resulting unnecessary use of force to subdue the suspect on him.
The former SWAT team member was also accused of lying during the internal investigation into his actions and Richardson served notice to Shaw that he would be fired. Richardson justified the termination by recounting seven other reprimands in Shaw’s record including admonishments for neglect of duty, misconduct at a public meeting and two at-fault accidents.
Through an attorney, Shaw appealed the termination and the punishment was overturned by the county merit commission. Per the commission, the allegation of lying was unproven but agreed that some form of punishment was necessary. The termination however did not meet the threshold for the proven offenses.
The sheriff suspended Shaw one day without pay, ordered six months’ probation and removed him from the SWAT team and was allowed back on duty according to the Standard Examiner.
In 2013, after Shaw returned to patrol duty with restrictions, a different attorney representing Shaw filed a suit alleging employment discrimination and mistreatment. The suit was settled out of court, resulting in a confidentiality agreement that would make it possible for the deputy to successfully move to another law enforcement agency.
The agreement, approved by the county commission, required the county to remove from official documents all references that “suggest and-or imply that Shaw was dishonest, untruthful, misleading or not forthright … or used excessive force.”
It also mandated that the county attorney’s and sheriff’s offices write letters to be placed in Shaw’s personnel file acknowledging that the Utah Peace Officer Standards and Training Council dismissed a case against him that had been opened involving the SWAT incident.
Davis County was put on notice that the terms of the agreement barred them from making negative remarks about Shaw to potential employers “or make statements to them that could reasonably be construed to question or criticize his integrity.” The sheriff was forced to write a letter stating the disciplinary actions did not implicate that Shaw was dishonest during the internal affairs investigation. The county also paid Shaw $5,000 as part of the settlement.
Shaw is alleging that the county did not abide by the conditions of the agreement in clear violation of the 2013 confidential settlement. He claims that he tried to apply for other jobs in Salt Lake and Summit counties but was not hired based on the disciplinary actions in his personnel file against the conditions of the agreement.
Michael Kendall, a Davis County deputy attorney in the civil division, said Tuesday the county had no comment on the suit.