Lawsuit: Casper Police Chief Didn’t Act On Harassment Claims
A former Casper Police detective and a current detective have filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against Police Chief Keith McPheeters alleging he failed to fire another officer after reports and investigations about inappropriate sexual comments, retaliation, violations of police department policies, and damages to investigations.
Former detective Shannon Daley and current detective Keri Patrick are suing under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 alleging sex-based discrimination and retaliation, according to the complaint filed late Friday by their attorneys John Robinson and Marci Crank Bramlet of the Jackson firm Robinson Welch Bramlet, LLC.
Daley and Patrick allege that McPheeters knew that now-retired detective Chase Nash should have been fired after reports found he constantly made inappropriate sexual comments and created a hostile work environment.
“Defendant knew about Nash’s conduct but protected Nash from investigation or discipline, which condoned and encouraged Nash’s conduct,” the complaint says.
The actions of Nash and McPheeters took a steep toll on Daley’s and Patrick’s personal and professional lives, according to the complaint. “Each of them sought and continue regular counseling due to the retaliation and the refusal of the Defendant to protect his employees from the harassment.”
Daley also paid a significant sum to buy out her retirement because her health could not endure her employment with the department. Her last day was July 19 after taking a Family and Medical Leave Act leave of absence because of the work environment at the department, according to the complaint.
Patrick still works for the department.
The attorneys wrote other defendants, including the City of Casper, may be added later to the complaint.
McPheeters did not return calls seeking comment.
Nash, who is not named as a defendant in the lawsuit, denied that he made inappropriate sexual comments to Daley, Nash and others, or conducted a campaign of retaliation. "The only thing I would say is that it's absolutely false."
Concerns about Nash’s behavior had been known, but the first investigation was triggered in April 2021 when detectives attended a training session in Denver. During a lunch break, multiple male detectives noted “Nash’s persistent comments regarding the size of his penis, this libido and other sexual topics,” not just to department employees but also to other city and county employees.
As a result of that incident, an officer in the police department’s Internal Investigations division started a report and interviewed people in the investigations division. He also interviewed employees with the Wyoming Department of Family Services, victim witness coordinators and the Children's Advocacy Project who had worked with Nash.
Besides statements about Nash’s conduct, the Internal Investigations officer also found he made anti-LGBTQ comments and/or inappropriate treatment of LGBTQ victims of crime, according to the complaint.
McPheeters overruled the Internal Investigations officer’s recommendation that Nash be terminated.
Daley and Patrick had not made complaints about Nash for this report.
However, Nash believed they did.
He began a campaign of retaliation that created a hostile work environment in the investigations division, according to the complaint.
“Nash confirmed to his office partner that he was singling out Detective Daley and reporting her for every possible violation of department rules or policy,” according to the complaint, adding that women “‘got away with everything’” and he wasn’t going to tolerate it anymore.
Meanwhile, Nash made his own complaint with the EEOC, saying “he was being discriminated against as a straight, white male.” As a result of this EEOC complaint, McPheeters told Daley’s sergeant and lieutenant not to do anything about Nash, according to the complaint. “Nash’s EEOC matter concluded in December of 2021.”
The complaint also said that Nash would interfere with investigations.
For example, in August 2021, Daley and Patrick were working a missing person/possible homicide investigation.
At a briefing, detectives were told to not interview the suspect and take him in only for DNA search warrant execution.
However, Nash pulled over the suspect, spoke to him without recording or operating his body camera, and contacted the Natrona County District Attorney’s Office with his information without first sharing with Daley and Patrick, according to the complaint.
Nash’s report about his contact with the suspect was inaccurate, and later Daley’s sergeant and lieutenant agreed with her that Nash should be removed from the case, according to the complaint.
By the fall of 2021, the detectives were working with their doors closed due to Nash’s behavior and retaliation, according to the complaint. “The supervisors voiced their own frustrations that they were under orders from the Chief not to do anything involving Nash.”
Meanwhile, Daley and Patrick began to suffer from the effects to their physical and mental health, and they began to look for other work, according to the complaint. “Nash’s behavior was a problem, but both Daley and Patrick came to understand that the Chief would not protect them from predators in their own department, whether it be Nash or others.”
In late December, Patrick met with Tracy Belser of the City of Casper’s Human Resources office and told her about the hostile work environment and McPheeters’ inaction despite numerous complaints. A police lieutenant also had given information about Nash to the Human Resources office in December after Nash's EEOC matter was concluded.
In early January, Daley met with Belser and had a similar discussion, according to the complaint. “Belser denied any knowledge of any events related to Nash.”
In March, the city asked city attorney Hampton O’Neill to conduct another investigation in part because of the retaliation and hostile work environment, and that resulted in a report with the determination that Nash should be dismissed, according to the complaint.
On March 18, Daley and Patrick met with Belser, who said the complaints had been substantiated, but she had not yet talked it over with McPheeters, according to the complaint. “Belser commented that the report was explicit and confirmed Chief McPheeters did not handle the Nash complaints appropriately. Belser also implied the report did not reflect well on her own conduct.”
Belser also said she agreed that Nash should be terminated, according to the complaint.
Nash was placed on paid administrative leave in January and submitted his resignation in March. He remained on administrative leave until June when his retirement took effect, according to the complaint.
Daley and Patrick are seeking all statutorily available damages, compensatory damages, punitive damages and other relief to be determined at trial, according to the complaint.
“Defendant also knew Nash’s offensive conduct was inflicted not just on employees of the CPD, but others affiliated with cooperating City and County agencies, according to the complaint.
“Defendant McPheeter’s refusal to intervene with Nash’s conduct amounted to malice or reckless indifference to the federally protected rights of Daley and Patrick. Defendant McPheeter’s [sic] refusal to stop Nash’s conduct created, condoned, and perpetuated a hostile work environment.”