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Former East Liverpool Police Officer Chris Green sues city, officers for First Amendment retaliation

Monday, March 6, 2023

The federal civil-rights complaint alleges that Green endured retaliation and dismissal for reporting allegations of police misconduct and criminal activity to the FBI.

Former East Liverpool Police Officer Chris Green sues city, officers for First Amendment retaliation
Former East Liverpool, OH Officer Chris Green with K-9 Officer Nero

East Liverpool, OH – Today Former East Liverpool Police Officer Christopher ("Chris") Green, who received national recognition for his work combating drug crimes, filed a federal civil-rights lawsuit [AMENDED 3/8] in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio today. The complaint alleges that Green “engaged in constitutionally protected free speech—as a private citizen—by reporting allegations of misconduct and criminal behavior by other police officers to the Federal Bureau of Investigation,” including “thefts,” “unconstitutional searches, seizures, arrests, and prosecutions,” “false accusation(s),” “interference and obstruction into drug investigation,” and “use of excessive force against a handcuffed, detained, and non-threatening individual.”

According to the amended complaint, Green reported the following alleged incidents to the FBI, among others:

  • Officers John Headley and Captain Tatgenhorst’s scheme to overbill for time worked as school resource officers, resulting in thefts.

  • Captain Tatgenhorst’s scheme to report attendance at K-9 training and being paid for such training that he did not attend, resulting in theft, false reporting, and unconstitutional searches, seizures, arrests, and prosecutions.

  • Captain Tatgenhorst’s false accusation that Green conducted an improper stop, the propriety of which was already confirmed by Captains Wright and Headley.

  • Captain Tatgenhorst’s interference and obstruction into the drug investigation of Jacob Boyle, Jordan Fields (Tatgenhorst’s nephew), and Fields’s wife.

  • Captain Tatgenhorst’s complaint against Green concerning Nero’s bite during an arrest.

  • Captain Headley and Officer Ramsey’s use of excessive force against a handcuffed, detained, and non-threatening individual.

  • Captain Tatgenhorst’s interference in the drug investigation of Juan Carlos Sprott (Tatgenhorst’s daughter’s boyfriend/fiancé).

Following Officer Green’s reports to the FBI, the suit alleges, “East Liverpool Mayor Gregory Bricker, Safety Service Director David Dawson, Captain Fred Flati, Captain Darin Morgan, Captain Chad Tatgenhorst, and Officer Robert "Moose" Ramsey (the last of East Liverpool Township) engaged in a retaliatory campaign to investigate and report false and fraudulent allegations against Green, which resulted in his unlawful suspension and termination from the police department.”

The complaint alleges that the defendants engaged in federal violations of:

  • 42 U.S.C. § 1983 First Amendment retaliation (free speech), alleged against East Liverpool, Bricker, Dawson, Flati, Morgan, Tatgenhorst, and Ramsey;

  • 42 U.S.C. § 1983 14th Amendment (failure to train and supervise), alleged against East Liverpool, Bricker, Dawson, Flati, Morgan, and Tatgenhorst;

The suit further alleges various Ohio-law claims for civil liability for criminal acts, including:

  • Intimidation (using a false or fraudulent writing), against Ramsey, Flati, Morgan, and Dawson;

  • Intimidation (against a witness), against Bricker, Dawson, Flati, Morgan, Tatgenhorst, and Ramsey;

  • Tampering with records, against Bricker, Dawson, Flati, Morgan, and Ramsey;

  • Tampering with evidence, against Dawson, Flati, Morgan, Tatgenhorst, and Ramsey;

  • Telecommunications harassment, against Tatgenhorst;

  • Interfering with civil and statutory rights, against Bricker, Dawson, Flati, Morgan, Tatgenhorst, and Ramsey.

The lawsuit also alleges that the City of East Liverpool recklessly hired and retained officers it knew were unfit for duty because of their bad behavior, causing harm to Green.

Green is represented by Subodh Chandra and Donald P. Screen of The Chandra Law Firm LLC. The matter is also being co-counseled by Martin P. Desmond—himself once a victim of retaliation when he reported unconstitutional misconduct occurring in former-Mahoning County Prosecutor Paul Gains’s office. In that case, Mr. Desmond, who was represented by Chandra Law, obtained a $550,000 settlement. Gains resigned in the middle of his term a few months after the case was settled.

Chandra Law and Desmond also recently teamed-up in the case of Morrison v. Mahoning County, et al., which alleged civil-rights violations, civil liability for criminal acts, defamation, and other state-law claims against several Mahoning County public officials, including the commissioners, county administrator, and prosecuting attorney.

Subodh Chandra, one of Green's attorneys, said, “The allegations in this complaint should concern anyone who cares about integrity in policing and government. Chris Green didn't deserve to be fired for reporting his concerns about misconduct to the FBI. We ask anyone who has information about the complaint’s allegations or related matters to reach out to us as"

The case is captioned Green v. City of East Liverpool, et al., N.D. Ohio Case No. 4:23-cv-00445, and is assigned to United States District Judge John R. Adams A copy of the amended federal complaint may be viewed here.

Chandra Law has experience obtaining justice for victims of First Amendment and employment retaliation, including public employees. The firm helped pioneer work in holding individuals and companies accountable for civil liability for criminal acts, securing the two leading Supreme Court of Ohio decisions favorable to crime victims on the topic. If you think that your rights have been violated, you may contact us to discuss your options.

Related Practice Areas
Employment RetaliationFirst AmendmentGovernment Ethics, Misconduct, Fraud, & AbusePolice Misconduct & Brutality

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