A Merrifield man who has criticized Nisswa City Council members at recent meetings filed a civil lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Minneapolis against the city, Police Chief Craig Taylor and police officer Conner Collette.
In the 59-page lawsuit filed Tuesday, Oct. 27, Troy Scheffler cites unauthorized access of private information in violation of the Drivers Privacy Protection Act, which protects the privacy of personal information assembled by a State Department of Motor Vehicles. He’s also suing for claims of false imprisonment, defamation, First Amendment retaliation, Fourth Amendment unlawful seizure and invasion of privacy.
He accuses Taylor of unlawfully looking up personal information on him and editing body camera footage of an encounter area police officers had with the city’s mayor and leaking that footage to the media, and Collette of unlawfully parking a squad car so that Scheffler had no way to get around it and approaching Scheffler to talk. He accuses the city of not fulfilling his request for information, including full body camera footage.
He also accuses the council, Taylor, council member John Ryan and Crow Wing County Attorney Don Ryan (brothers) and select Nisswa employees of attempting a coup to remove Heidmann as mayor through smear campaigns, cover ups and election interference.
Tom Pearson, Nisswa city attorney, said via email that city officials decline to comment on the lawsuit. “The actions taken to respond to the legal matter will be determined as it moves forward,” he wrote.
The city must respond within 21 days of receiving the lawsuit on Tuesday, Oct. 27.
In the lawsuit, Scheffler alleges police misconduct and that he has been retaliated against by the council, Taylor, Collette and others after addressing the city council Sept. 4 during a special council meeting held to address Mayor Fred Heidmann’s arrest during a traffic stop of a third party on Highway 371. He claims Nisswa hasn’t released information he’s sought through the Minnesota Government Data Practices Act.
Scheffler is seeking compensatory damages in excess of $75,000 and punitive damages in excess of $75,000, or such sum as a jury may award, as well as reasonable attorney fees.
Before filing the lawsuit, Scheffler offered that the city could pay him $20,000 to settle issues he outlined in an email to City Administrator Jenny Max.
He also offered to release Collette from the lawsuit if Collette followed five requests that Scheffler outlined in an email to Collette, Pearson and Max. Those requests included that Collette donate from his own pocket $100 or more to a K9 German shepherd rescue of his choice; admit his mistake; team up with fellow officer Luke Hall to do thought experiments and role play scenarios with regard to different false imprisonment and Fourth Amendment issues; acknowledge people and community are always priority; and make a list of what he thinks would be good policing in a community policing sense.
Nancy Vogt may be reached at 218-855-5877 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Facebook and on Twitter at www.twitter.com/@PEJ_Nancy.