Former police chief sues mayor Dennis Tyler, City of Muncie

MUNCIE, Ind. -- The former police chief of Muncie, Indiana has filed a lawsuit against the mayor and the City of Muncie. 

Steve Stewart resigned from his position on Oct. 31, 2016. In a lawsuit filed Wednesday, Stewart alleges Muncie Mayor Dennis Tyler and the city instructed him to conduct a criminal investigation of a former employee, which would interfere with an ongoing FBI investigation.

According to the lawsuit, a former city employee cooperated with an FBI investigation of corruption in Muncie. Tyler allegedly told Stewart the unnamed former employee had committed unnamed crimes and requested the police department investigate the former employee. 

Stewart turned over any information given to him by Tyler to the FBI, he said in the lawsuit. Tyler, Stewart and two Muncie police officers then had a meeting where Tyler said the investigation of the former employee was necessary because he believed the FBI wasn’t doing “anything,” and because the FBI wouldn't say anything about the investigation of corruption, the lawsuit states. At the meeting, Tyler requested Stewart to investigate the former employee for any criminal wrongdoing, according to the lawsuit. 

Stewart alleges Tyler continued to pressure him to investigate the former employee, with the "implicit understanding" that not doing so would be grounds for removal or termination. Stewart told Tyler he wouldn't because it would be unethical to interfere with the FBI investigation, according to the lawsuit.

Stewart eventually resigned on Oct. 31, after finding out Tyler tried to go to a separate person to make false claims about him, according to the lawsuit. 

In his letter of resignation, Stewart wrote, 

“Mayor Tyler, Actions by you and others proves to me that I can no longer be a part of your  administration. Therefore, Effective immediately I am resigning as Chief of Police.” 

Stewart alleges Tyler said he would "pay for this." He also accuses Tyler of not paying him the proper salary and benefits after his resignation.

Stewart is suing under the following counts: 

  • Due process via the 14th Amendment
  • Breach of contract
  • Breach of contract - third party beneficiary
  • Promissory estoppel
  • Violation of Indiana's wage payment statute
  • Constructive discharge

Stewart is requesting a trial by jury. Tyler's office said they can't comment on pending litigation. 

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