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Rigby Police officer sues chief, city over alleged retaliation and demotion

The Rigby Police Station | Mason Chen,
RIGBY —- The Rigby police chief has been accused of misplacing or misusing nearly $1,000 donated to his department.
A lawsuit has been filed in Jefferson County by Rigby Police Officer Alfred Jacob Hannabach. It claims Chief Sam Tower retaliated and demoted him after he reported suspicions that donated funds were wasted or misappropriated. The lawsuit also alleges the city of Rigby is also responsible for the actions against Hannabach, who is seeking an unspecified amount of damages greater than $10,000.
The city, through its attorney, denies all allegations in the suit. Tower told he could not talk about the case as it is a personnel matter.
The focus of the lawsuit is over concerns raised by Hannabach after a 2020 fundraiser.
He and other officers raised money for the Rigby Police Department’s reserve officer program. Around Sept. 28, 2020, Hannabach and another Rigby Police Officer took $950 in cash donations in a signed, dated and sealed envelope to Tower, according to the lawsuit.
“After accepting the envelope, Chief of Police Samuel Tower informed Officer Hannabach he would set the money up with City Records Clerk Dave Swager for a special reserve fund to be used to purchase reserve equipment,” the lawsuit reads.
Four months later, in early January, Hannabach and another officer spoke with Tower about needing to buy a Taser for the reserve officers to share. Hannabach says he contacted Swager to see how much money was available to buy the gear, but according to the lawsuit, Swager acted confused and had no knowledge of the reserve fund.
“Officer Hannabach engaged in a frantic search through receipts and ledgers to locate the money,” attorneys write in the lawsuit. “Officer Hannabach, after diligent search, was unable to find any record that the money had ever been remitted to the City.”
Hannabach approached Tower about the missing money, and Tower reportedly said he had the money at his house. Tower left the station and returned with a bank bag saying the money had actually been in a safe in his office. Hannabach claims he was never shown the money.
With money missing and apparently conflicting statements from Tower, Hannabach reportedly told a Rigby city council member about the situation. Tower was then asked what happened to the money and he said it was used to buy a Taser, according to the lawsuit.
The suit says there is no knowledge of a receipt backing up the purchase. A reserve officer was given a Taser, but Hannabach believes it is one that had already been used by the department by another officer or Tower. submitted a public records request and obtained an invoice the Rigby Police Department submitted to the city for the purchase of six Tasers on Sept. 16, 2020. The invoice was for $1,679.04 and is one of four payments. It’s unclear if the $950 was part of these payments. The city sent a check to Axon Enterprise Inc. to cover the cost of the tasers and police cameras in May 2021.
Hannabach claims issues with his employer began soon after an investigation was done into the funds. Hannabach’s attorneys write in the lawsuit that Tower called a meeting to discuss “loyalty” and “chain of command,” and officers were told they are prohibited from speaking to anyone on the Rigby City Council.
Last month, on Sept. 14, Hannabach received a written reprimand and demotion. He says he was disciplined for recording conversations with his supervisors as an attempt “to restrict and dissuade Officer Hannabach’s ability to document ” the missing $950.
No one has been charged with any crime related to this case.
Rigby Mayor Jason Richardson has not responded to requests for comment.
The post Rigby Police officer sues chief, city over alleged retaliation and demotion appeared first on East Idaho News.

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