Former Owasso Officer Sues Police Department

Tuesday, December 30th 2008, 5:17 pm
By: News On 6

By Lori Fullbright, News On 6

OWASSO, OK -- An Owasso officer, who was fired in September, has sued the police department for $6 million. Doug Driver is suing because he says his own chief had him illegally arrested and then fired him because of that arrest.

Doug Driver has yet to talk to anyone about his lawsuit until now and he talks only with The News On 6.

The News On 6 has done several stories on Driver over the years for his many local, state and national awards as well as a book he wrote about police work.

He says his rights were violated and he wants to clear his name.

Doug Driver had been with the Owasso Police Department nearly 18 years and was approaching retirement.

A video from 1997 shows when he was awarded with national credentialing.

Driver was put on administrative leave in March of 2008 and eventually demoted from lieutenant to officer after being accused of timesheet discrepancies.

He was still on leave in August when he says he was venting about the situation to the department's chaplain.

Driver says he said something like, if something ever happens to me, I don't want city or police management at my funeral.

He says the chaplain told an officer, who determined Driver was making threats and was suicidal. Officers were sent to Driver's house to take him into custody for an emergency mental evaluation.

"They do handcuff me, they do walk me out the front door, neighbors are watching, no words to justice to how that felt, put me in back of a police car and drove away," said Doug Driver, former Owasso Officer.

Driver admits he was intoxicated that day, but says he voluntarily emptied his gun so officers would not feel threatened.

He says it was obvious the officers didn't believe he needed to be arrested, but were ordered to do so by the chief and deputy chief.

Driver was evaluated and released from Saint Francis within hours.

The city recommended he be fired the next month, based on the claim he'd threatened suicide and pushed one of the officers at his home.

"For almost a quarter of a century of doing the best I can, to be done that quick, it's devastating," said Driver.

"He needs to be cleared. It needs to be clear that he didn't act improperly that day, that Chief Yancey and the defendants in the lawsuit stepped in and caused this situation to come to a head like this," said Guy Fortney, Driver's Attorney.

The lawsuit names Chief Dan Yancey, Deputy Chief Scott Chambless and Officer Michael Denton and accuses them of violating Driver's fourth amendment.

Response from Owasso Police Department.