Captain files lawsuit against Alachua County Sheriff Clovis Watson, others follow

A captain for the Alachua County Sheriff's office is asking the courts for help
Published: Mar. 14, 2023 at 4:44 PM EDT
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) - A captain for the Alachua County Sheriff’s Office is asking the courts for help. She claims Sheriff Clovis Watson Jr. failed to hear her and other deputies out after internal affairs investigations violated their rights.

Law enforcement veteran of 30 years, Cpt. Rebecca Butscher filed a lawsuit on Monday against Watson in his capacity as sheriff. She alleges the sheriff violated the state’s Officer’s Bill of Rights when he failed to grant a hearing to review an inappropriate internal affairs investigation recommending her termination.

The lawsuit alleges, less than a month after Major Lance Yaeger was promoted, he launched an Administrative Investigation into Butscher on Feb. 14. He led the investigation into a complaint he filed against Butscher claiming she was “insubordinate.”

A week later, Yaeger called Butscher into his office to interrogate her on the matter. Butscher asked to have the interview in the future to allow her to have counsel present. Instead, Yaeger continued the investigation without her input.

Utilimatley, Yaeger found that Butscher had been insubordinate to him through her “body language and tone.” He then recommended her firing.

RELATED: Discrimination lawsuit filed against Alachua County Sheriff Clovis Watson Jr.

The lawsuit named two other sheriff’s office employees, Sgt. William “Frank” Williams and Sgt. Kevin Davis, who experienced similar investigations that violated their rights.

Butscher claims her right to be heard was violated. She then requested Clovis hold a Compliance Review Hearing on Feb. 23 which is her right under the Officer’s Bill of Rights according to the lawsuit.

The sheriff’s office failed to respond to her request until her counsel reached out. At that time, the general counsel for the sheriff declined to hold a hearing, which the lawsuit claims is illegal.

Butscher is asking the court to issue Wit of Mandamus ordering Watson to convene and Compliance Review Hearing and reopen the internal affairs investigation against her.

RELATED: Alachua County Sheriff Watson agrees to lend K-9 Unit to Gainesville Police when needed

On Monday, Williams also filed a lawsuit with similar allegations against the sheriff as Butscher. He is also requesting a Compliance Review Hearing after a separate internal affairs investigation recommended his firing.

Williams is a 13-year veteran of the sheriff’s office. In 2013, he was shot in the line of duty and returned to work less than three months later. He has been the leader of a patrol squad unit commonly referred to as Team 1, Night Shift assigned to District 2.

On Jan 23, he was notified that he was under investigation for violating the sheriff’s social media policy.

Investigators agreed to interrogate Williams in the presence of his counsel on March 1. Counsel presented the investigators with a list of policy violations the sheriff’s office had committed and they failed to resolve the issues.

The investigation was then closed, and investigators recommended Williams’ firing. He attempted to have the sheriff conduct a Compliance Review Hearing, instead, he was given a Notice of Intent to Terminate.

Both lawsuits were filed by Attorney Bobi Frank who is based in the city of Alachua.

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