Gilchrist County’s former EMS chief has filed a civil lawsuit in federal court against Sheriff Bobby Schultz and Sergeant Stephen Stalvey.
Linda Walker is seeking damages in excess of $75,000 excluding attorney’s fees.
Walker claims she was falsely arrested on June 22, 2013 for burglary with intent to commit a trespass. The charges were later dropped.
In the filing, Walker’s attorney Stephen K. Johnson states, “There existed no probable cause or arguable probable cause to arrest. [Walker] had to spend the night in jail and hire the services of an attorney to defend her against the criminal charges and was immediately suspended from her job. [Walker] ultimately lost her job as a result of the original suspension based on the false criminal charges. [Walker] suffered severe reputational damages.”
The lawsuit claims that Sheriff Schultz failed to supervise Sergeant Stalvey to ensure that he would not arrest an innocent person. And after the fact, the sheriff failed to take corrective action against his officer.
“The sheriff had on previous occasions allowed false reports by it’s law enforcement officers to be submitted without penalizing the officers who submitted the false reports, thereby engaging in a pattern and practice that enabled false arrests to occur,” Walker’s attorney stated in the filing.
In the lawsuit, Walker alleges that Stalvey violated her civil rights by falsely arresting her without probable cause. As a result, Walker maintains that she suffered economic injuries, pain and suffering, embarrassment, humiliation, and loss of the capacity to enjoy life.
“The acts of Sergeant Stalvey were reckless, willful, malicious, intentional and oppressive,” Walker’s attorney stated.
Walker also alleges in the lawsuit that the office of the sheriff has a history of widespread abuse, unreasonable seizures and officer misconduct and the sheriff has been deliberately indifferent to this conduct. And despite the fact that the sheriff knew or should have known about the misconduct of his deputies, the sheriff failed to institute policies and procedures to safeguard the constitutional rights of citizens in their encounters with deputies.
Walker claims that the sheriff failed to institute policies and procedures to keep unlawful arrests of innocent people from occurring, so the sheriff falsely caused or contributed to the fact that she herself was arrested.
Following her arrest in 2013, Walker was suspended from her position as EMS chief. The county restructured the emergency management department, which eliminated her position within the department. Despite Walker’s attempts to be returmed to her former position once the charges against her were dropped, she ultimately accepted a settlement package from Gilchrist County.
At press time, no trial date had been scheduled for the civil lawsuit.
By Carrie A. Mizell