Officer can go forward with suit

CNJ staff

A decision by the New Mexico Court of Appeals filed Thursday clears the way for a former Clovis police officer to proceed with a lawsuit against the city, according to court records.

Former police officer Jerry Wimberly sued the city of Clovis in June 2003 for lost employment opportunities, the records read. He was forced to hire an attorney to defend him after the police department provided a private investigator findings from an internal investigation into illegal satellite TV use, according to an opinion filed in the Court of Appeals.

Wimberly’s lawsuit cited policies preventing the disclosure of confidential investigation results, the opinion said.

Wimberly’s attorney, Eric Dixon, said in a news release his client will pursue the lawsuit. No trial date has been set.

Judicial District Judge Teed Hartley granted a summary judgment in favor of the city in September 2005. Hartley’s decision said the policies and procedures the officer relied on were too vague in nature, the opinion said.

Wimberly complied with the internal investigation in the spring of 2001 and voluntarily resigned his position in September 2001 for unrelated reasons, records show. He said he was told by a prospective employer he would not be hired because of the satellite TV investigation, records show.

The appeals court said the case was appropriate for trial and found Wimberly had a reasonable expectation the city would follow procedures. Those procedures included allowing him an attorney, the opportunity to request his supervisor’s presence, and having all interviews recorded when he was questioned in addition to keeping the investigation confidential, according to the appeals court.

Clovis City Manager Joe Thomas said Monday he had not been made aware of any developments in the case and therefore could not comment.