Former Storey deputy sues county, former sheriff

A former Storey County Sheriff's deputy has filed a lawsuit against Storey County and former Sheriff Jim Miller alleging he was fired for refusing to falsify paperwork, engage in horseplay and for supporting Barack Obama in the presidential election.

In the lawsuit filed March 25 in U.S. District Court in Reno, Cory Cooper, a 20-year veteran of the Storey County Sheriff's Office, outlined a number incidents he believed led to his firing.

The complaint states:

• Cooper refused to falsify documents about the Community Chest, and the training attendance documentation of an employee, his refusal to falsify a statement that a "teacher had engaged in certain illegal activity when (Cooper) had not witnessed it," and his refusal to engage in "horseplay" with items he observed employees taken from the evidence fault, were tests from management that led them to determine, "he would not go along with their illegal program and determined to find a way to exit him from employment."

• They began an administrative investigation against him, but failed to provide him with proper notification of the investigation as required by the Peace Officer Bill of Rights. Cooper said he was placed on administrative leave as a result of a the investigation, then called back to work. When he was returning to work, however, he slipped on snow and ice and sustained neurological and skeletal damage. Cooper said days later, as he was recuperating from his fall, a sheriff's lieutenant arrived at his home to notify him of an internal affairs investigation. Then, two weeks later, Lt. Gerald Antinoro, who has since been elected sheriff, arrived at Cooper's home with "termination paperwork." Cooper said when his wife asked Antinoro why Cooper was being terminated, Antinoro allegedly said "it's the easy way."

• Cooper said his political affiliation as a Democrat also caused him problems at his job. "Plaintiff was told by management that he was a "(expletive) lover," and employees posted a target picture of Barack Obama in the workplace, and placed a brass elephant, signifying the Republican party, on his wall.

Cooper alleges that the county violated his civil rights, his First Amendment rights, and that he was terminated because of his "handicap."

He asks for in excess of $10,000 for the emotional distress, mental anguish, humiliation, grief, harm to reputation, loss of enjoyment of life, lost wages, benefits and seniority.

Neither Storey County, nor former Sheriff Jim Miller, have yet filed responses to the complaint.

Cooper's attorney Jeffrey Dickerson was not immediately available for comment.


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