Civil suit filed against Auburn Police Chief, townBy RYAN O'CONNOR
Union Leader Correspondent
May 30. 2014 7:10PM
AUBURN — A former Auburn police officer has filed a civil lawsuit against the town and Police Chief Edward Picard.
Both parties were served Thursday and each has 30 days to respond to Rockingham County Superior Court.
David Flight, who currently lives in Auburn, was employed as an officer in town from 1989 through his November 2010 retirement. His complaint alleges “a degree of bad blood between him Chief Picard,” that he claims led to false charges being filed against him in 2012.
Those criminal theft charges, which alleged Flight stole a Remington Model 7400 .30-06 hunting rifle from the Auburn Police Department, were eventually dropped in March 2013, prior to trial, after evidence was presented that Flight said directly corroborated his explanation and contradicted Picard’s account.
The court summons, submitted by Flight through his attorneys at the law offices of Douglas, Leonard and Garvey in Concord, reads, in part:
“... Flight’s life was massively impacted by the ordeal set in motion by Chief Picard. He was under the ongoing threat of criminal prosecution for more than seven months, worrying that he might not be able to disprove Chief Picard’s false allegations against him. He suffered considerable emotional distress, requiring medical treatment, as a result ... The public nature of this case led to considerable embarrassment and isolation for Flight, who is still an Auburn resident. The publicity increased the emotional distress he suffered and led to him becoming a pariah in the community.”
In addition, the lawsuit alleges the prosecution against him adversely impacted his employment and finances, since he was employed by a company selling police equipment to local departments, who he claims refused to work with him while charges were pending, thus restricting his territory to outside New Hampshire.
Flight is seeking restitution for attorneys’ fees and litigation costs in addition to unspecified compensatory damages for embarrassment, injury to reputation, serious emotional distress, medical costs, loss of enjoyment of life, damage to his reputation and other serious harms due to counts of malicious prosecution, defamation and invasion of privacy.
The summons states: “Picard’s initiation of a criminal investigation and prosecution against Flight was done in bad faith, with malice, and with a reckless disregard for the truth which he had ever reason to know.”
Picard and Auburn Town Administrator Bill Herman each said they’ve been advised not to comment on the ongoing civil case.
“All I can tell you is the town has been served, we’re taking it seriously, and the matter has been referred to town council and our insurance companies ... to determine if this is covered under the town’s liability policy,” said Herman.
Flight’s attorneys were not immediately available for comment.