|By Kate White, Staff Writer for the Gazette-Mail|
A former Ritchie County sheriff's deputy has sued the sheriff who fired him, claiming his civil rights were violated when the sheriff installed a GPS tracking device on his police cruiser without a warrant.
James Asbury, 49, of Berea, filed the lawsuit against Ritchie Sheriff Bryan Backus and Ronald Barniak, a former sheriff in Ritchie County and Backus' chief administrator. In the complaint, which was filed in Ritchie Circuit Court on Friday, Asbury claims that Backus and Barniak have a history of violating deputies' constitutional right to be free of unreasonable search and seizure.
Last year, Circuit Judge Timothy Sweeney dismissed eight felony charges of falsifying accounts and a misdemeanor embezzlement charge against Asbury. The judge ruled that there was no exception to the warrant requirement in dealing with the GPS installed on Asbury's cruiser, according to the complaint.
The former deputy claims he got on the sheriff's bad side because he didn't write enough tickets. Because of that, the lawsuit states, Backus and Barniak "decided to engage in a roundabout way of terminating the plaintiff's employment as a sheriff's deputy, by placing a GPS tracking device on his take-home police cruiser, and then comparing the GPS data with his daily logs and time sheets," the complaint states.
The device was allegedly installed in October 2013 at an auto repair shop. Information from the GPS was monitored through May 2014, according to the lawsuit.
"The defendants purposely chose not to seek a warrant to authorize placing the GPS device on Deputy Asbury's car," the lawsuit states.
Backus and Barniak couldn't be reached Monday afternoon. The lawsuit states the men have denied any wrongdoing.
Asbury says he didn't find out about the GPS until May 22, 2014, when the charges were filed against him, allegedly at the direction of the sheriff....
READ REST OF STORY Former deputy sues Ritchie sheriff over GPS monitoring By Kate White, Staff Writer for the Gazette-Mail