Former officer files lawsuit against Sisseton Police Department

A former police officer has filed a complaint, claiming she was denied her right to due process
Published: Aug. 1, 2022 at 8:13 PM CDT
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SISSETON, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - A former police officer has filed a complaint, claiming she was denied her right to due process after being coerced into resigning from the Sisseton Police Department.

Samantha LaCoe was only a year into her three-year contract with the Sisseton Police Department when she was asked to resign on January 19th. Her employment in Sisseton was her first job as a law enforcement officer after graduating with a four-year degree in law enforcement.

LaCoe said she was treated differently within the Sisseton Police Department after reporting one of her coworkers for messaging underage girls on social media. According to her complaint, she was labeled a ‘snitch’ within the department.

LaCoe also alleges in her complaint that she was subject to harassment, failure to train and failure to respond to training requests while working for the Sisseton Police Department.

The City of Sisseton, the Sisseton Chief of Police, the Sisseton Police Commission, the Roberts County State’s Attorney, the mayor of Sisseton and LaCoe’s two Field Training Officers are listed as defendants in the complaint.

LaCoe was informed on January 17th that she would be placed on a Brady/Giglio list, a public database of officers accused of misconduct.

According to her complaint, LaCoe was placed on the list for four different incidents. Two of the incidents involved LaCoe pulling over a vehicle with a malfunctioning rear light, but the Roberts County State’s Attorney disagreed with LaCoe’s actions after viewing her dash cam footage.

Another incident involved a routine business check where LaCoe found underage drinking occurring, but wrote in her report that she knocked on the door when she had actually shook the handle.

The last incident involved a domestic abuse call where LaCoe wrote the wrong name of the defendant in her report, but did not make any arrests.

LaCoe’s attorney, however, doesn’t believe these incidents are worthy of being classified as a Brady/Giglio violation.

”One of the things that caught my eye and why I was interested in this case was I didn’t think that those raised to the level of a Brady/Giglio violation. It’s a list to essentially say ‘bad cops.’ Cops who have lied on the stand or have done something that has been illegal. Brady/Giglio, however, is meant for extremely serious cases. When you lie to a grand jury, when you plant evidence or you hide evidence or something like that. It’s not about, what I would classify as, just rookie mistakes,” said Robert Doody, LaCoe’s attorney.

LaCoe claims she was not aware of any threat of being put onto a Brady/Giglio until January 17th, and she was asked to resign two days later.

“I know that before the Brady/Giglio issue came up on January 17th, my client was already informed that she won’t be a police officer by January 24th, which makes me think they’ve already made up in their mind what they’re going to do, now they’re looking for a basis to do it upon,” said Doody.

Now that LaCoe has been placed on the Brady/Giglio list, it appears on her background checks when applying for other law enforcement jobs.

”She’s been denied seven times now because of this Brady/Giglio list that she signed under duress,” said Doody.

LaCoe claims she wasn’t given a chance to defend herself and has a right to due process.

“The specific thing that we’re trying to challenge here is that law enforcement should have some rights when it comes to Brady/Giglio. They should have the right to due process. The Brady/Giglio list for a law enforcement officer is the death nail of their career. It’s a unique lawsuit because we had to sue the police to protect the police,” said Doody.

Doody says a demand letter to seal the Brady/Giglio file was sent to the Sisseton Police Department on June 1st, but the request was denied.

The defendants on the complaint were served on July 8th and have 60 days to respond. Those listed on the complaint and the attorney representing them have denied to comment on the case.

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