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Former Troy mayor files civil suit against Walters

by Canda Harbaugh & Western News
| December 15, 2009 11:00 PM

Former Troy mayor John Allen Brown filed a civil lawsuit Dec. 4 in district court against Troy chief of police Mitch Walters and the City of Troy, alleging misconduct mostly stemming from Brown’s September 2008 arrest by Walters.

Walters arrested Brown for allegedly violating a restraining order filed by Walters’ girlfriend.

Brown’s attorney, Patrick Flaherty of Great Falls, said that the timing of the lawsuit “has nothing to do” with recent events that have resulted in the announcement of Walters’ resignation. Flaherty stated that a “torts claim” letter, which notified the City of Troy of a potential lawsuit, was sent to the city almost a year ago requesting damages for false arrest. The letter was legally required to preserve Brown’s right to sue.

Brown accuses Walters of false arrest, abuse of process, malicious prosecution, negligence, excessive use of force and defamation. The complaint alleges that Walters had a vendetta against Brown who, as mayor, was Walters’ supervisor from July 2000 to July 2005.

Walters’ request for a restraining order against Brown was denied June 2008 in justice court, but a request for a restraining order against Brown by Walters’ girlfriend, Susan Lasater, was granted. Walters claimed in affidavits in both requests that Brown shadowed his patrol activity in a stalking manner and had made false claims having to do with his work in order to gain compensation from Troy’s insurance carrier.

“Brown has told others that ‘I’m going to make Mitch’s life miserable,’” read Walters’ affidavit, signed May 29, 2008.

On Sept. 12, 2008, Walters arrested Brown for allegedly violating Lasater’s order of protection. According to Brown’s complaint, Brown was visiting with a friend at Roosevelt Park when he was arrested. Lasiter had arrived at the park and Walters believed that Brown should have left.

Brown alleges that Walters told his friend that he was “brain dead and babbling,” and then proceeded to cuff him too tightly considering past injuries he has incurred, including nine pins in his wrist. Charges filed against Brown were dismissed, according to Brown’s complaint, by the county prosecutor. 

Brown’s lawsuit references a separate claim he has filed with the Montana Human Rights Commission alleging discrimination by Walters concerning Brown’s mental disability. Brown suffered a brain injury from a four-wheeling accident during the summer of 2005, which led to his resignation after five years as mayor.

Walters has allegedly made negative remarks to other Troy residents concerning Brown’s mental capacity. The Human Rights Commission granted Brown a hearing, which is scheduled April 22-23. 

The attorney representing the city on the matter, Todd Hammer, was reportedly out of town and unavailable for comment.  Mayor Jim Hammons said he did not know enough about the claims to comment. Brown could not be reached because he does not have a phone and his address is unknown. Walters did not immediately return a voicemail left for him.

The Troy Police Department – comprised of three officers – has been in the news since last month when, within days of each other, a citizen filed a civil lawsuit against officer Bob McLeod for alleged misconduct, and Walters and officer Kit Pearson unintentionally broadcast an offensive conversation on a public frequency. The broadcast generated public outcry and sparked a state investigation, and as a result, Walters announced his resignation, effective at the end of the month. Results of the investigation are forthcoming.