Lawsuit: Former Bluffton chief McAllister intimidated officer

rlurye@islandpacket.comOctober 29, 2013 

Illustration from a photograph of former Bluffton Police Chief David McCallister at a 2010 news conference.

STAFF ILLUSTRATION

Former Bluffton Police Chief David McAllister intimidated a subordinate by screaming profanities at him and punching a patrol vehicle hard enough to leave a dent, a revised civil lawsuit states.

The plaintiff, former Lt. Bryan Norberg, also claims Bluffton's town manager forbade him to report concerns to his superiors without first consulting the police chief. The town manager, Anthony Barrett, then fired Norberg when his attempt to follow protocol forced him to lie to superiors, the lawsuit alleges.

Norberg's attorney, Nancy Bloodgood, filed an updated complaint in Beaufort County Court of Common Pleas on Monday. A judge ordered the revisions at a hearing Oct. 14, following the town of Bluffton's request to dismiss the lawsuit, filed June 24.

The town of Bluffton's attorney, Mary Lohr, said the original lawsuit was unclear. She said Tuesday she has received the updated complaint but had not yet read it.

Bluffton Mayor Lisa Sulka did not respond to a request for comment. Barrett declined to comment on the lawsuit Tuesday.

The town of Bluffton is the lawsuit's sole defendant.

McAllister resigned from the Bluffton Police Department on Aug. 1, 2012 and retired from law enforcement. He serves as the regional vice president of human resources at Securitas Security Services USA, Inc., in Atlanta, according to LinkedIn.

In an email Tuesday evening, McAllister said Norberg's claims are untrue.

"I did not disciple, punish or treat him poorly or badly. I hired him. Promoted him and gave him command of the largest segment of the department - if he got terminated after I left then I cannot comment on those circumstances," McAllister wrote. "I can say the stories he is making up now are just that - stories."

In April 2011, McAllister pushed an employee into a wall during a meeting, the lawsuit states. Norberg spoke with the victim and then lied to Barrett during an internal investigation of the incident for fear of losing his job.

He was fired by Barrett on May 7, 2013.

Norberg's suit says that incident was not the first time he felt his job depended on covering for McAllister. In the past, the chief had pressured him "through yelling, cursing, belittling, and intimidation."

Once, when the former lieutenant complained about another employee, the chief took him behind the office and cursed at him three times to fix the problem, "and then slammed his fist on the hood of a patrol vehicle, putting a dent in it," the lawsuit says. Norberg's lawsuit also alleges that McAllister asked him to help conceal an extramarital affair and that between December 2010 and March 2011, the chief allowed his girlfriend to keep stray dogs in the town's holding cells.

In his suit, Norberg says that when he reported this to the town's human resources manager, he was told to speak with town manager Anthony Barrett, who promised to look into the claims. But a week later, about April 1, 2011, Norberg met with Barrett and McAllister and was told to sign a written warning for going "outside the chain of command," the lawsuit contends.

In the pre-typed statement, Norberg agreed to "always give the Chief, my superior officer, the right and courtesy to hear my concerns before going outside of the Department," the lawsuit says.

A week later, the pushing incident occurred. Norberg kept silent about his conversation with the victim until the employee's lawyer called for him to give a deposition under oath, the lawsuit states.

Norberg's attorney, Bloodgood, said Tuesday she was confident Norberg's case would move forward.


Document: Norberg lawsuit vs Town of Bluffton re: former Chief David McAllister

Follow reporter Rebecca Lurye on Twitter at twitter.com/IPBG_Rebecca.

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