Moberly files claim against Town over suspension
Mammoth Lakes Police Sergeant Rick Moberly is tired of waiting around.
His attorney, Brad Gage, told The Sheet this week that Mr. Moberly has filed a claim against the Town of Mammoth Lakes over his suspension.
The claim, said Gage, is a precursor to filing a lawsuit.
Gage believes his client is the victim of retaliation by Police Chief Al Davis, who became upset with Moberly for arresting a friend of his for driving while intoxicated.
In response, Chief Davis said Moberly’s suspension is “100% absolutely not retaliatory.”
Davis said the third party investigation of Moberly will conclude within the next two to three weeks.
As Mr. Moberly’s attorney explained, upon conclusion of the investigation, the Town will determine whether discipline is warranted, and if so, to what degree.
But because Gage feels Chief Davis is biased against his client and bent on revenge, he says the whole investigation has not been fair and the outcome is a “foregone conclusion.”
Even if his client is exonerated and no discipline is imposed, Gage says he still may file a case with the court because Mr. Moberly will still have suffered harm, including but not limited to the stigma of being placed on administrative leave, inability to promote and loss of potential overtime.
Moberly, who was placed on administrative leave by the Town of Mammoth Lakes in September, 2017 for undisclosed reasons, has been with the MLPD since 2006. He was promoted to Sergeant in 2013.
The retaliation claim, in large measure, is based upon a DUI arrest Moberly made last year.,
In response, Chief Davis wrote an email to Moberly which his attorney believes was threatening.
The Sheet obtained a copy of this email via a Freedom of Information Act request and will print it here.
We have chosen to eliminate one paragraph where Chief Davis discusses an active member of his department.
We have also chosen not to edit the grammar and will print as is.
There are references to former Mammoth Lakes Police Officer Dan Casabian, who currently works for the Mono County Sheriff’s Office.
Casabian had apparently expressed interest about rejoining the MLPD, which sparked debate within the department as to whether or not that was a good idea.
The email was sent April 6, 2017 at 1:05 a.m. Town Finance Director Rob Patterson and Human Resources Manager Cassandra Mance were cc’d on the email:
People call you a bully. A bully forces his way through attrition?
Am I right? What on earth makes you think you can bully me? You don’t think much about me and I can just quit Today no chief. What then. Rick wins? Till some other guy comes in, who? Who is the next guy??? Think about that!
And please don’t gloat (but you did) over the fact that my very first friend in mammoth, you were able to arrest. He deserves what he reaped. His step dad was a retired capt in so cal, died last year. 500 cops went to his funeral. How many would attend each of ours. His mom was an er nurse. He respects us and our profession. That was evident in how he cooperated with you, lucky for you. Had you taken the time to show up at my parties, you would have understood Dave and how he respects us. And not you by the book because it was the only thing you learned in SD.
Bottom line, I have given you chances to speak up and what we and or I can change to make things better. You have failed to come up with anything tangible. Yet, somehow you wish me to fail. To what end I don’t understand. If I fail, you fail. If you have issues, bring them forward. I have not listened [sic] and heard what you have said. Even at the meeting when you lost it and talked about things 10 years before that were still major issues for you.
In our several meetings, I have given you the opportunity to say what you think or feel. You have never provided direct feedback about how I can do a better job. I have said “what and [sic] I doing right and what am I doing wrong. Each time, your statement had been, “we need to hire younger officers.” Or trying to Engage the public.” One meeting about your evaluation you said “chief i don’t know what you want from me,” “Rick we have had several talks about my direction”. Yeah you are right and I get it.
Rick, you don’t control our applicants. But you said you had “guys” willing to come here. Nothing happened, twice. maybe they don’t want to work for you? Maybe they don’t want to work for the you after they think about it? Casabien [sic]? Thank you for that one. Watson said he should have promoted Dan over you.
Rick, you don’t control MLPD, you have a hand in it, but you will never control it unless you are chief. If you want to learn how to become a LT or a chief, I will guide you and help you on your path.
Conversely, if you wish to push back against me and the positive changes I am trying to instill for Mammoth Lakes, we can go down that road. One year in San Diego gives you, somehow I’m not sure you will win. I have the council working with me. You have no credibility here in mammoth.
I am tired of your back room dealings and complete lack of understanding of world views here. In our town. I will negate policy violations about that.
I will tell you this as a line in the sand, 7!people told me what you said about casabian. You lied to Dan and you lied to me!! during that chat. If this comes up in the future…I will take stronger measures. You lied, I let that one time go because of Dan.
You are not the boss. I am. I do my research….think about that.
Your very nature of supervision is based on an old antiquated ideal. You must get past that or you will never be really successful as a true leader in law enforcement.
Rick, I have concerns about your ability to lead. Lead impartially. Seeing the larger picture.
I have worked with, dealt with and disciplined guys who find themselves at the forefront of controversy. They could not handle it based on lack of expertise, training and most of all understanding.
You have a one way track of Mind. Through training and chats, I hope you understand what police work is Really about and you can understand it.
The Sheet’s public records request was made in July, 2017. We primarily asked for correspondence between Chief Davis and Sgt. Moberly.
The trove of emails also showed at least one instance of professional animus between Moberly and one of his fellow Sergeants at the time, Eric Hugelman. Hugelman has since been promoted to Lieutenant.
It also included the following note from Davis to Moberly, penned the day after The Sheet made its records request.
“Rick, I’m sure some of the emails have personnel issues related to your performance. We will make sure those are not disclosed. Your performance lately has been great and very much appreciated by not just me, but other town staff who have commented on your sudden change in direction and policy. Thank you! Being a cop is not always sour faced and being downtrodden, regardless of where we are cops.”
Moberly was subsequently suspended two months after this email.