Sheriff Glenn Palmer has given notice he intends to sue the city of John Day and its employees for a list of allegations stemming from actions related to the occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.
Palmer’s attorney, Benjamin Boyd from Hostetter Law Group in Enterprise, sent a tort claim notice received by the city April 4 that states Palmer will assert claims for damages against the city, John Day dispatch employees, City Manager Peggy Gray and Police Chief Richard Gray. The notice is required before filing a lawsuit against a public body.
In the notice, Boyd said, as Palmer was traveling to a roadblock near Seneca after the law enforcement action Jan. 26 that led to the arrest of most of the occupation leaders and the death of one, city dispatchers falsely determined a passenger with Palmer was a militia member. He said the passenger was actually Grant County District Attorney Jim Carpenter.
Boyd said Palmer asked an unidentified dispatcher for an update, who “knowingly and/or recklessly” withheld information from Palmer that had been relayed previously to a variety of other law enforcement agencies. Palmer and Carpenter’s lives were in danger, Boyd said, as they proceeded to the police roadblock with officers believing Palmer was traveling with a militia member.
Boyd also alleges the dispatchers breached the contract to “provide appropriate information to authorized personnel” between the city and the sheriff’s office.
The notice goes on to list complaints against John Day’s dispatch manager, police chief and city manager.
Dispatch manager Valerie Luttrell and Richard Gray both filed complaints against Palmer after the Jan. 26 incident with the Department of Public Safety Standards and Training. The state police licensing agency recommended the complaints be investigated by the Oregon Department of Justice, which has opened an investigation.
Boyd said Luttrell’s complaints that Palmer “openly shows his support” for the occupiers and “their cause on social media” are false, as is the allegation he was “consorting with” the occupiers. Similarly, he said Richard Gray’s complaints that Palmer shows “involvement and support” for the occupiers is false.
Boyd said both city employees consulted with City Manager Peggy Gray before filing the complaints on city letterhead using their official email accounts.
Peggy Gray said the city does not comment on pending litigation.
“This will eventually be resolved in the courtroom — and until there is public resolution, this statement will stand on its own,” she said.