$100,000 claim filed against Oak Harbor

A longtime Oak Harbor resident who was arrested last year for allegedly impersonating a police officer filed a claim for damages against the city last Friday.

A longtime Oak Harbor resident who was arrested last year for allegedly impersonating a police officer filed a claim for damages against the city last Friday.

Jim Bailey is seeking $100,000 in damages for false arrest and defamation. He’s represented by Oak Harbor attorney Christon Skinner, who’s no stranger to filing claims against the city.

Skinner said the experience embarrassed and humiliated his client, who denies the accusations.

A press release issued by Police Chief Ed Green after the arrest drew national media attention to the case and led to members of the national media banging on Bailey’s door.

“He’s a good Samaritan,” Skinner said. “He’s dedicated his life to trying to be a helpful guy.”

SKINNER CLAIMS the police violated the law by arresting Bailey without a warrant. Under state law, cops may only arrest someone on suspicion of a gross misdemeanor crime without a warrant under certain circumstances; Skinner said none of the exceptions apply in this case.

In addition, he said Green’s press release was inaccurate and exaggerated.

“It was reckless for the chief to issue a press release of that type without first fully investigating the facts,” he said.

Oak Harbor Mayor Scott Dudley, however, is standing by the police. He said officers had enough evidence to arrest Bailey.

“We look forward to all the facts coming out,” he said, adding that he’s used to “frivolous” claims from Skinner.

SKINNER PREVIOUSLY filed several claims against the city related to Dudley’s personnel management and his termination of employees.

A police officer issued Bailey a criminal citation, but City Prosecutor Erin Lewis said she had the charge dismissed so that the police department could investigate further. She recently said she is reviewing additional information gathered by the police to determine whether to re-file the charge.

Oak Harbor police arrested Bailey on Sept. 10, 2014, on suspicion of impersonating a police officer, which is a gross misdemeanor crime.

BAILEY’S ARREST stemmed from an Aug. 6, 2014, incident in which he intervened in a domestic violence situation. He was driving in the area of Northeast Harvest Drive when he saw a car stopped in the middle of the road. He walked up to the car and saw a man striking a woman, according to the claim for damages.

Police Detective Jim Hoagland investigated the allegations. He wrote in his report that Bailey opened the car door, told the man to get out and that he was being arrested, which “made him believe that he was a police officer.”

Bailey told a bystander to call 911 from a cell phone.

Both the bystander and the female victim told responding officers that Bailey claimed he was a retired police officer, Hoagland wrote.

Officers rushed to a report of “officer needs assistance,” which they consider to be a possible life-and-death situation.

Hoagland said he investigated and found that Bailey had never been a certified police officer but was injured during the police academy training and didn’t graduate.

ACCORDING TO documents obtained through a public records request and the claim for damages, Bailey worked at the department after graduating from the reserve academy. Over the years, he served as a crime prevention officer, a public information officer, a DARE officer and as a grant supervisor for the department’s school program.

On Sept. 10, Hoagland arrested Bailey in the Safeway parking lot on suspicion of impersonating a police officer in the second degree.

Hoagland reported finding in Bailey’s wallet an invalid Oak Harbor police ID “that appeared to be made on a home computer” and a homemade card indicating that Bailey is a member of the International Police Association.

Hoagland obtained a search warrant for Bailey’s car and home.

In the car they found a “police-style scanner” and four white-and-blue lights mounted on the front of the vehicle.

At the home they found a picture frame with police badges, a framed certificate from the police academy, two altered police ID cards, a police-style light bar and a handgun.

In addition, the detective said he found numerous newspaper articles that gave the impression that Bailey is a police officer or retired police officer.

SKINNER SAID many of the police-related items that Bailey possessed are holdovers from his days at the police station. Bailey used the light bar, for example, during parades to promote the DARE program and uses the scanner for his job at a funeral home.

Skinner said he isn’t sure why Bailey told newspaper reporters over the years that he’s a retired police officer, though he said it could just be “sloppy speaking” since he was a reserve officer.

Several of the stories related to Bailey’s self-defense classes for women.

“Maybe he did enjoy the idea of being involved in the law enforcement side of things,” Skinner said.

Nevertheless, Skinner argued that the arrest had nothing to do with issues from the past but with the one incident in which Bailey intervened in an assault.

The arrest related to that incident, he said, was clearly unlawful.

POLICE HELD Bailey at the jail for about eight hours without giving him access to his attorney, Skinner said.

Green issued a press release stating that Bailey “may have been impersonating a police officer for many years and may have gained fiscally, conducting training and lectures as a ‘retired police officer’ throughout Washington state.”

Green asked for anyone who was a “victim” to contact the police.

Documents obtained through the records request show that at least two people contacted the police and claimed that Bailey had represented himself as a former police officer.

Skinner said he received unsolicited letters in support of Bailey, who’s long been active in the community.

Skinner said he advised Bailey not to speak to the media because of the criminal case. Green is currently at the FBI Academy. Capt. Teri Gardner said she cannot comment.