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Cottonwood Heights police chief sues city, councilwoman, citing plot to oust him

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Cottonwood Heights Police Chief Robby Russo taks about his department’s use of naloxone opioid overdose reversal kits at the Capitol in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2016.

SALT LAKE CITY — The Cottonwood Heights police chief is suing the city and a city leader, alleging she improperly worked with others in city government to try to oust him.

Police Chief Robby Russo alleges Councilwoman Tali Bruce and others publicly called his integrity into question and took “careful, coordinated action” to form allegiances and wrongfully terminate him. He seeks damages of more than $500,000, according to the suit filed in Salt Lake City’s 3rd District Court.

In addition to Bruce and Cottonwood Heights, the suit lists as defendants 10 additional unnamed employees. Russo alleges they defamed him and purposely sought to cause him emotional distress, violating his contract and sharing confidential information about him.

His eight-page lawsuit contains broad allegations but does not delve into specifics. It says government officials handed down sanctions in response to misconduct that took place in Cottonwood Heights in the last year.

Cottonwood Heights City Manager Tim Tingey declined comment, citing the pending case.

Russo alleges Bruce or others at the city provided false information in a court document and improperly deleted or redacted correspondence the police chief sought to obtain as part of his case.

Bruce did not immediately return messages seeking comment Thursday. Neither did Russo or his attorneys.