Also named in the suit are Capt. Tom Wasson, Lt. Kevin Whitaker and Deputy Daniel Marlow. Beard is asking for the sums of $950,000 and $500,000 in compensatory and punitive damages.
Ruth said Friday that Beard’s firing was proper.
“He was fired by his lieutenant and captain for insubordination after he would not accept discipline for his reckless driving in his patrol car,” Ruth said. “Because of his driving, he almost hit an oncoming car head-on, then lost control running off the road. Our people will be held accountable when they violate either our policies and procedures or endanger people’s lives.”
Beard joined the Sheriff’s Office in July 2008 and was terminated March 29, 2011.
On March 4, 2011, Beard drove off the road while responding to an accident with injuries. His patrol car was not damaged.
Beard was told he would be suspended and written up for the accident by Whitaker on March 9, 2011.
Beard alleges Whitaker and another officer informed him in an unprofessional manner that his driving was bad. Furthermore, he was reprimanded based on false statements attributed to him.
According to the suit filed by Chattanooga attorney Michael Raulston, Beard was suspended for a day, given a write-up and ordered to remedial driving as a result of the accident while responding to a wreck with injuries. Beard appealed the decision and had a hearing on March 28, 2011. He contends he has never been given a ruling.
The complaint alleges Whitaker terminated Beard’s employment the following day “in an abusive, profane and unprofessional manner,” and that Whitaker “illegally terminated the Plaintiff’s employment.”
Beard also alleges he was fired because he supported Ruth’s opponent in the 2010.
This is the second wrongful termination lawsuit filed against the BCSO in 2013. Former Deputy Dallas Longwith filed suit Jan. 2 in U.S. District Court in Chattanooga asking for $1.5 million in punitive and compensatory damages against the Sheriff’s Office.
Attorney Gerald Tidwell alleged Longwith’s termination was a violation of his civil rights with respect to the First Amendment right to free speech and free association.
Ruth said in response to Longwith’s lawsuit, “I want the citizens of Bradley County to know a few things. I want you to know what I am committed to. When I ran for the office of sheriff, I committed to being open and above board in my dealings with employees and the public.
“My staff and I have worked to do just that and to take our agency to a higher standard of morality and ethics. As I have stated in my weekly [Banner columns], my goal is to build a more professional agency that is honest and transparent in all that we do.”