LA POINTE, WI – The town of La Pointe, its administrator and board chairman are named in lawsuit filed by the city’s police chief, William Defoe, according to court records.
The civil suit, filed in Ashland County Court on May 17, alleges the town and administration “deprived” Defoe of his constitutional due process rights.
It also claims the town was negligent in hiring, training, or supervision of its administrator.
The lawsuit alleges Defoe received verbal and written warnings from town administrator Lisa Potswald and Chairman James Patterson after discussing a closed case on his personal Facebook page in 2017.
Defoe alleges his page was only viewable by immediate friends and the town did not have a social media policy.
The suit claims Potswald “took it upon herself to conduct an investigation in the matter” and read Defoe a Garrity warning, which the suit claims is illegal by state law.
In addition, in 2014, the Town Board established a policy where a “disinterested third party” would investigate cases surrounding the La Pointe Police Chief, the lawsuit stated.
In a separate case, Defoe alleged he was suspended for three days related to a training incident involving an officer who resigned during a disciplinary action against him.
The lawsuit states Defoe explained to the officer that “as a law enforcement officer, people would make insensitive remarks towards him, including racial remarks.”
Defoe then proceeded to tell the officer, a minority, “Here comes the Border Patrol; do you have your green card?”, according to the suit.
Defoe claims the statement was taken out of context by Potswald, who informed the chief he had the right to an “impartial hearing.”
During the proceedings, the suit states the town attempted to reduce the suspension to a “verbal warning.”
Defoe is seeking $30,000 in damages and claims he suffered mental pain and humiliation as a result.
In a document filed in Ashland County Court Monday, the defendants denied the allegations and requested dismissal of the complaint and a jury trial.
Defoe has served as La Pointe chief since June 2014. He has been an officer on the island since 2004.
Attorneys for both parties did not immediately respond to requests for comment.