CLEVELAND – A decorated, veteran Cleveland Police supervisor has filed a civil lawsuit against his commander and others claiming a pattern of false allegations of misconduct, repeated attempts to impose severe internal discipline, and bizarre, unheard of assignments.
The suit has been filed on behalf of Lt. Paul Baeppler. It targets Cleveland Police 4th District Commander Brandon Kutz, Lt. Jason DeFranco, and the City of Cleveland.
The suit says, “…Kutz and DeFranco have acted in concert and conspired in a variety of unlawful and discriminatory activities directed against Baeppler under color of their authority with the City of Cleveland, Division of Police.“
A team of attorneys led by Craig Bashein and Henry Hilow outline an ongoing series of what they describe as sham investigations against Lt. Baeppler, “…all in an effort to force him to quit or retire.”
In one case, Baeppler took the extraordinary step of wearing a wire and secretly recording a supervisor’s discussion. He produced that after being put up on internal disciplinary charges which said the supervisor said had become loud, unprofessional and insubordinate.
The recording shows he had simply engaged in what appeared to be normal, civil discussion.
The suit says, “The recording of the December 15, 2016 conversation and/or meeting with Kutz indisputably demonstrates that his allegations and written accounts regarding the meeting were blatantly false, malicious, untrue, and prepared with the intent to mislead higher public officials, including the Chief of Police, Deputy Chief of Police, and Safety Director, and to induce those officials into taking disciplinary action against Baeppler under false pretenses…”
The suit mentions, Baeppler, at one point, was taken off the street and assigned to sit in a room with no contact with other officers reviewing paperwork which was already being reviewed by others.
He since has been assigned to the midnight shift at a vehicle impound lot, an assignment never given to someone of his rank. And this, even at a time of short-staffing on city streets.
FOX 8 has reached out to Kutz for comment. He said he couldn’t talk about a pending lawsuit.
The City of Cleveland has a policy of making no comment on pending litigation.
The lawsuit asks for a jury trial and financial damages.