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EX-OFFICER’S SUIT CLAIMS `OUTRAGEOUS’ TREATMENT

SHARE EX-OFFICER’S SUIT CLAIMS `OUTRAGEOUS’ TREATMENT

A former West Jordan policewoman says she was wrongfully discharged and that the city defamed her, caused her emotional distress and violated her constitutional rights.

A lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court by Sharon N. Larsen asks for more than $300,000 in punitive and monetary damages, calling the Police Department's conduct "extreme and outrageous."Shortly after she was hired by the Police Department in 1989, "rumors" began circulating about her, according to the complaint. Those rumors, which are not described in the complaint, caused fellow officers not to back her up on several calls, a situation that put her life in peril, the complaint states:

On one occasion, Larsen said she was searching a building in a felony case when another officer illuminated her with his flashlight, putting her in danger. On another occasion, Larsen had to break up a fight between two men by herself because no other officer volunteered to back her up and the dispatcher did not assign backup, according to the complaint.

Larsen also says that the Police Department was aware of threats made by an "alleged criminal" who knew an informant she worked with in the narcotics case against Dr. Robert Davis, who is serving a federal prison sentence for fraud.

But the Police Department "failed to inform Larsen of the potential danger to Larsen's life," according to the complaint. "Subsequently, this same alleged criminal shot at a policewoman and was held in jail on a firearms offense."

Larsen says the Police Department dismissed her concerns that her life was in danger.

On May 19, 1994, Larsen broke down emotionally in front of her supervisor, Sgt. George Peterson, the complaint states. Peterson advised her to call a doctor and take the day off.

Five days later, the department placed Larsen on administrative leave and ordered her to see the department psychologist, Dr. Eric Nielsen.

During one of her appointments with Nielsen, he informed her that Police Chief Ken McGuire had told him that she had spoken with 11- and 12-year-olds while she was wearing a hood over her head.

Nielsen also told Larsen that she was unfit to be an officer, according to the complaint. The doctor wrote a five-page evaluation of her but the department would not give her a copy unless she signed a form that would release the city from any liability, which she refused to do, the complaint states.

Larsen says the department failed to give her "ordinary care and assistance" and that such failure caused her to lose her job and suffer "severe mental anguish."

West Jordan Police Chief Ken McGuire and City Attorney Steve Homer would not comment on Larsen's lawsuit.

Homer said, however, that Larsen was not fired. After being placed on administrative leave, she took sick leave, which expired in July, and then never came back to work.

"She abandoned her position," Homer said.

Larsen's attorney, Lena Sarandos, declined to elaborate on the lawsuit.