Corrections officer files wrongful termination suit

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Jailer claims to be fired for not creating false report

A former corrections officer at the Barry County jail has filed a civil lawsuit in Barry County court against the county and Sheriff Gary Davis, alleging he was wrongfully terminated from his post in the jail.

According to court documents, Emmitt Musick has filed the suit for actual damages in excess of $25,000, for the costs incurred, including attorney’s fees, and for such other and further relief as the court deems just.

The allegation says in late 2019, the jail received a female inmate from the Monett Police Department while Musick was not on duty. Upon his arrival at the jail, the inmate complained of chest pains and, following a check, was experiencing high blood pressure.

The two officers on duty when Musick arrived were new and called Musick to ask for guidance on how to handle the inmate. Musick advised they call the nurse, who instructed the officers to take the woman to the hospital.

A female officer was needed to take the woman to the hospital, per the jail’s protocols, and the officers were having trouble finding a female officer to transport the inmate.

When Musick returned to the jail to help with the situation, he asked if the inmate had been booked yet, and she allegedly had not been booked. The document says per protocol, the inmate must be booked into the jail to be transported with a medical questionnaire, which can only be produced after booking.

Musick then allegedly began the booking and the production of the questionnaire, and a female officer then arrived to complete the transport. Musick instructed the other officers to complete the booking and write a report reflecting what occurred.

The next day, at about 4 a.m., Musick returned to work and was informed Sgt. Caleb Kelley had come in, after he left the day before, took the inmate’s possessions and left, and that the inmate never returned because Kelley released her.

Musick then spoke to the female officer who conducted the transport, who allegedly said she called Kelley to relieve her, at which time Kelley came to the hospital, sat for about 20 minutes, then left to collect the inmate’s belongings before returning to the hospital and releasing her.

At about 7 a.m., several jurisdictions called asking about the inmate, who was allegedly a fugitive. Musick allegedly told the jurisdictions to wait until Kelley arrived at 8 a.m.

When Kelley arrived, Musick told him the jurisdictions wanted to speak with him about the inmate, and Kelley allegedly went into Cpt. Gary Allen’s office for about 20 minutes, after which Musick was summoned to the same office.

Musick alleges Kelley and Allen then screamed at him for booking the inmate into the jail, “with Sergeant Kelley even raising his fists to [Musick] as if he was going to strike him.”

Allen then allegedly said, “She was never here,” and deleted her booking in the computer system.

Musick was then sent back to work, but later that day, Kelley spoke with Musick and one of the officers that was on duty the previous night.

“Sergeant Kelley, in order to create a false medical refusal justification for releasing the female, instructed [Musick] and the other [officer] to prepare a false medical report stating the female individual was not able to remain conscious and that she had to be carried into the jail,” the lawsuit claims. “When [Musick] and the other [officer] refused to prepare the report, Sergeant Kelley threatened them and told them if they refuse, they will be held responsible because the Sheriff will always back him.”

The lawsuit also says Kelley is related to Sheriff Davis.

A few days later, Musick and another individual spoke to Monett Police Chief George Daoud, who told the deputies he did not want to get involved in internal Barry County Sheriff’s Office issues, and he knew his officers brought the female inmate to the Barry County jail that night.

Daoud allegedly told Musick to consult the Highway Patrol. After leaving, Musick allegedly received a call from Daoud, who said Davis called asking if two deputies visited him. Daoud said he told the sheriff yes, but did not give any names.

Shortly thereafter, Kelley called Musick and asked if he had gone to the Monett Police Department. Fearing for his job, Musick said no.

That same day, Musick also allegedly called the Highway Patrol and informed a captain about the alleged cover-up by Kelley and Allen.

Two days later, Musick was called into the office with Allen and Maj. Deputy Angela Cole. During the meeting, Allen and Cole allegedly demanded to know if Musick had reported the alleged cover-up to the Monett Police Department, and further stated that if Musick did not quit on the spot, he would be terminated and charged with a crime.

“Fearing for his safety and freedom, and not knowing what else to do, [Musick] quit,” the lawsuit said. “Thereafter, [Musick] appealed to his superiors for reinstatement, explaining that he had not done anything wrong, but [Musick] was not allowed to return to work.”

The lawsuit alleges Musick was subject to a wrongful discharge pursuant to RSMo 105.055. Specifically, it alleges disciplinary action was taken against Musick in response to disclosing misconduct, including but not limited to violations of the law, mismanagement and abuses of authority.

Musick is being represented by Douglas B. Ponder of Ponder-Zimmermann LLC, based in St. Louis.

Davis and Barry County Presiding Commissioner Gary Youngblood both said Thursday they had not seen the details of the suit and did not wish to comment.

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