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Lawsuit claims Kosciusko County Officer violated Fourth Amendment

(Carli Luca / News Now Warsaw)

A Warsaw man filed a lawsuit Monday against a Kosciusko County police officer for violating his Fourth Amendment rights, but as of Thursday it was unclear who was being sued.

The complaint, filed by the law office of Christopher C. Myers & Associates, Fort Wayne, on behalf of Phillip Meade, states the defendant is “Kosciusko County Police Officer ______ Bumbaugh (first name unknown but to be provided upon discovery).”

In a telephone call Thursday afternoon, an attorney from the law office said they were not sure they knew who the officer was yet, but they thought it was a county officer. When told there were three officers in the county – at Winona Lake, Pierceton and Syracuse police departments – with the last name Bumbaugh but none of them worked for the county, the attorney said if the complaint was wrong they were going to have to file an amendment to it. A spokesman with the Kosciusko County Sheriff’s Office also verified there were no officers there named Bumbaugh.

On or about Nov. 19, 2017, Meade was at his home speaking with the mother of his grandchildren when the grandchildren came inside the home and said that someone was there looking at Meade’s truck, according to the complaint. Before Meade could go outside and investigate, he heard a knock on the door.

Meade went to the door and discovered Bumbaugh when Meade answered the door. The complaint calls Bumbaugh a Kosciusko County Sheriff’s officer.

Bumbaugh informed Meade he was there to serve an arrest warrant on him. The warrant had been issued Oct. 13, 2017, relating to a charge of alleged invasion of privacy.

The complaint states Meade cooperated in exiting his home and accompanying the officer to his police car and was placed inside the car.

Bumbaugh then went back to Meade’s truck. Meade asked him if he had a search warrant and was told no. Meade was told by Bumbaugh that he “didn’t need one,” according to the complaint.

Without permission or consent from Meade, Bumbaugh then proceeded to search through Meade’s truck twice. Bumbaugh then took Meade from the scene.

Prior to Nov. 19, 2017, Meade had other encounters with Bumbaugh in which Bumbaugh had come onto Meade’s property, attempted to take pictures of Meade’s truck and was told by Meade to get off of his property.

Meade contends that Bumbaugh engaged in an unlawful search of Meade’s vehicle without Meade’s permission, without a search warrant and without any other potential legal justification to search the vehicle.

The complaint states “the unlawful search of the plaintiff’s truck furthermore was an unreasonable search in violation of the plaintiff’s federally protected rights under the Fourth Amendment” and U.S. Code. It subjected Meade to “inconvenience, emotional distress and other damages and injuries.”

The complaint states the “unlawful and unreasonable search by the defendant was intentional, knowing, willful, wanton and in reckless disregard of the plaintiff’s federally protected rights under the Fourth Amendment,” justifying an “imposition of punitive damages.”

Meade requests judgment against Bumbaugh for compensatory damages, punitive damages, reasonable attorney’s fees and costs and for all “just and proper relief in the premises.” He also requests a trial by jury in the action.