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Mistrial declared in Cherrier trial

Judge strikes down lawsuit by former Prescott cops

ELLSWORTH — The Prescott police officers fired by the city last year will not get their jobs back, a judge decided Tuesday.

Buffalo-Pepin Circuit Court Judge James Duvall dismissed a lawsuit brought by former officers Bryan Massman and Ryan Most and denied motions from their attorney that sought to restore their jobs and provide them back-pay.

The contract outlining the grievance process was ambiguous "at a minimum," the judge said, but concluded it was clear that, as probationary officers, they were not eligible for just-cause termination rights.

The officers were fired abruptly in August 2017 for what the city described as job performance issues. It was later revealed through an open records request that Interim Prescott Police Chief Rob Funk recommended to the Prescott Police Commission that they be dismissed amid concerns about officer conduct, insubordination and unsecure weapons.

The lawsuit alleged the city breached a labor agreement outlining a particular termination process that requires the city show just-cause for termination.

The officers' attorney, Matthew Biegert, argued at the the hearing that Massman and Most had for-cause termination rights.

"In this case there was no due process," Biegert said.

He said after the hearing that the ruling was "wrongly decided" and that the officers would consider a possible appeal.

Mike Longaecker

Mike Longaecker is the regional public safety reporter for RiverTown Multimedia. His coverage area spans St. Croix and Pierce counties. Longaecker served from 2011-2015 as editor of the Woodbury Bulletin. A University of Wisconsin-River Falls graduate, Longaecker previously reported for the Red Wing Republican Eagle and for the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau. You can follow him on Twitter at @Longaecker

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