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Police officials respond to lawsuitPosted on May 13

Police officials respond to lawsuitPosted on May 13

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BILLINGS - There are no grounds for a lawsuit charging police administrators brushed aside an officer's complaint that illegal drugs were mishandled in the Billings Police Department, say lawyers for the defendants.

The suit filed in March by officer Steven Feuerstein alleges that in 2002, some administrators in the department conspired to suppress his complaints about missing drugs.

In responses filed recently in District Court, lawyers for former chiefs Ron Tussing and Jerry Archer say they "responded immediately" with an informal investigation into Feuerstein's complaint that two officers mishandled drugs used for training purposes. The drugs returned after training were weighed and inspected, according to documents filed in court.

"It was determined that all the drugs had been returned and accounted for with only a minute fraction of a gram having been lost which would be expected in the course of the canine training," the documents say. The training involved use of dogs in drug work.

Feuerstein, a Billings patrol officer for 14 years, said that when he reported fellow officers took drugs from the police department and gave them to an outsider, supervisor Dave Hinkel said to "keep this between us." A response filed in court on behalf of Hinkel says Feuerstein did not give "a complete and accurate recitation" of the conversation. Feuerstein intended to discredit and embarrass Hinkel, according to the response.

The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages for negligent supervision, malice and violation of civil rights and workplace safety.

District Judge Ingrid Gustafson has scheduled a June 15 conference with attorneys.

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