by: Kevin McCarty Updated:
LAKEWOOD, Wash. - Former Lakewood police officer and union president Brian Wurts has filed a lawsuit in Pierce County Superior Court claiming he was fired from his job because he is gay.
Wurts was fired from the Lakewood Police Department in December 2012 following a lengthy investigation into the embezzlement of more than $150,000 from a fund set up for the families of four police officers murdered in a Parkland coffee shop by ex-convict Maurice Clemmons. Fellow officer and union treasurer Skeeter Manos pleaded guilty to charges in federal court in May 2012 and was sentenced to nearly three years in prison. Wurts was investigated by the FBI but never charged.
The case led to an internal investigation into Wurts’ knowledge of and possible involvement in the Manos case. He was placed on administrative leave in early 2012.
According to the suit, during that investigation allegations arose that Wurts had sex with a fellow Lakewood police officer while on duty, a violation of department policy that could result in termination. The suit doesn’t give details on the results of that investigation, and Doug McDermott, the attorney representing Wurts, said he doesn’t know what conclusion was reached. Wurts was not told he was being terminated because of the sexual misconduct accusations.
Wurts also claimed he became a target for investigation by the department because of his position as president of the Lakewood Police Independent Guild.
Lakewood police never gave a reason for Wurts' termination publicly, saying it was a personnel matter, but Mike Bolasina, an attorney for the Lakewood Police Department, said Friday Wurts was fired for steps he took to protect Manos during the FBI investigation.
Wurts gained attention following the murders of four Lakewood officers in November 2009. He spoke out on behalf of the union and mounted an unsuccessful bid for the state legislature as a Republican the following year.
KIRO 7 attempted to contact Wurts for comment, but he did not respond. A Lakewood city spokesman said officials there cannot comment on pending litigation.