Former Public Safety investigator sues over firing
Mar 05, 2013 (The State (Columbia - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
A former top cop at the S.C. Department of Public Safety is suing the agency for damages after his dismissal for unprofessional conduct.
Former chief internal affairs investigator Bobby Collins says his firing is retaliation for arguing with troopers during a traffic stop Jan. 10.
In a lawsuit filed Feb. 28 in Richland County court, Collins alleges the firing is "malicious and mean-spirited" after he scolded troopers for steps he considered inappropriate during the early-morning stop in the St. Andrews area.
Collins claims his firing is "an effort to scapegoat" him for pointing out problems in the way the stop was conducted.
The agency "will vigorously defend" itself against the allegations, spokeswoman Sherri Iacobelli said Monday.
In a separate reply filed in court, public safety officials said Collins' "record of improper conduct at the stop speaks for itself."
State public safety director Leroy Smith fired Collins hours after the incident for his behavior, recorded on a video as is standard when a motorist is stopped. Collins was hired for the post in May.
Collins was stopped by a state Highway Patrol officers on suspicion of drunk driving but passed tests and wasn't charged.
After passing those tests, Smith arranged for subsequent blood and urine tests at Collins' insistence to show he wasn't intoxicated, the lawsuit says.
Collins swerved while putting the top back on an orange juice bottle and felt the stop was groundless, the lawsuit says.
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