Response filed in federal court to lawsuit against Morgan Co. Sheriff’s Department

By Gary Scott on December 4, 2015 at 8:47am

The Morgan County Deputies named in a federal lawsuit back in September have denied many of the allegations made against them.

The lawsuit was filed in September in U.S. District Court in Springfield. It names Deputies Derek Suttles and Joshua Weber, as well as Sheriff Randy Duvendack and Morgan County on behalf of three Kansas residents- Douglas Raney, Michael Shackelford, and Tim Hagen.

The suit indicates the trio was driving through the area to go camping in Michigan when they were pulled over by Suttles on Interstate 72 on June 23rd, apparently because of an obstructed license plate.

The suit says Suttles then asked Raney if he had anything illegal in the vehicle. Raney said no, and did not consent to a search. A K9 dog was then called, arriving with Deputy Weber. The K9, according to the suit, gave a “positive alert”, and officers searched the vehicle.

According to the litigation, Shackelford was personally searched by Weber, who also demanded and seized his phone.

Ultimately, nothing was found during the search, according to the suit, but in the response to the suit, which was filed at the beginning of November, the defendants denied that no contraband or evidence of criminal activity was found.

According to the response, law enforcement located marijuana remnants and about $1-thousand in cash in a bag located near the rear drivers’ side of the vehicle.

The response indicates the vehicle occupants denied ownership of the bag and contents and argue against the suit’s claim that the K-9 dog, named Panda, had a positive alert.

The deputies rejected the portion of the lawsuit that says it was a false claim that Raney’s license plate was obstructed, and that Raney, who was driving, had not violated any law.

Suttles also denies that he threatened the plaintiffs, as the original suit states.

According to the response, a verbal warning for an obstructed plate was issued. The deputies deny they violated constitutional rights.