A Federal lawsuit filed last December by local insurance agent Dirk Vermeulen against the Oakdale Police Department and the City of Oakdale was dismissed by the United States District Court’s Eastern District of California on June 26.
The lawsuit stems from a contact Vermeulen had with Police Chief Lester Jenkins and a later computer broadcast to police personnel about Vermeulen’s behavior.
According to court documents, Vermeulen was contacted by a Cristy Seversen sometime in 2012 who reported that Oakdale Police Officer Warren Bradford had informed her he observed a “woman who drove a red Ford Mustang…spending all day at (Vermeulen’s) home several times per week.”
It is unknown why Bradford allegedly told this to Seversen, but sources within the city claim Bradford had a romantic relationship with Seversen at one time.
After the Oct. 10, 2012 city council meeting, Vermeulen approached Chief Jenkins and inquired if it was “standard practice” for the police department to drive by residents’ homes and run license plates parked outside.
Later that evening, Vermeulen received a picture text message on his cell phone from Seversen showing a computer screen in a police car. On the screen was “Dirk Vermeulen, hat, backpack, GOA of a bike, 647F (code for intoxicated) mad at PD, 4A1 (Jenkins’ call sign) req officer safety BOL (Be On the Lookout).”
Vermeulen, who knew of Bradford’s relationship with Seversen, believed Seversen received the text from Bradford’s computer screen in an effort to discredit and humiliate him.
Because of the broadcast, Vermeulen claims he suffered “mental anguish, severe emotional distress, damage to his reputation, and loss of enjoyment of life.” Vermeulen also claimed Jenkins didn’t follow proper police procedure and made a “false report” in retaliation for exercising his free speech for criticizing the running of license plates.
On May 22, United States Federal Magistrate Barbara McAuliffe ruled that Vermeulen didn’t prove any “cognizable claim for retaliation” for exercising his free speech or that the police broadcast was retaliatory or out of standard policy. The judge also gave Vermeulen 30 days to revise his action to show that his complaint was valid and to show he suffered some sort of damage.
On Thursday, June 26 the complaint was dismissed by the US District Court.
Vermeulen, who represented himself originally, told The Leader he intended to refile the lawsuit and had hired local attorney Terry Stark.
Stark did not return messages left at his office by press time.
Court documents obtained on June 30 show Stark has listed himself as an attorney in this action.
Officer Bradford resigned from the Oakdale Police Department on Aug. 26, 2013 and was unavailable for comment. The circumstances surrounding his resignation are unknown.
When contacted on Friday, June 27, Chief Jenkins said he had not heard about the dismissal and could not comment due to the pending litigation. Jenkins also said he could not speak to Bradford’s resignation since it is a personnel issue.