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Fired cop files to reargue lawsuit against Southold Town

A former Southold Town police officer who was fired four days before his probationary period ended last year has filed to reargue a previous lawsuit against the town, seeking damages for loss of salary and benefits.

Garrett Lake is claiming his employment was “terminated in bad faith” for reasons unrelated to job performance. He is also seeking damages for “stress, humiliation, embarrassment and mental anguish,” as well as attorney’s fees, according to court documents.

Mr. Lake, who in 2016 was honored for making Southold Police Department’s largest number of drunken-driving arrests, argued in a wrongful termination lawsuit last year that he was fired as a result of political pressure from local Republican party members after two “high profile arrests” he made.

In July, a Suffolk County Supreme Court judge denied Mr. Lake’s motion seeking reinstatement and found the town was “reasonable and rational” in terminating his employment.

Justice William Ford’s decision included an affidavit from Southold Town Police Chief Martin Flatley, who testified that the department received civilian complaints that Mr. Lake was “overaggressive and overzealous in his use of police tactics in conducting vehicle traffic stops, searches and arrests,” according to court papers.

“He had his day in court,” Southold Supervisor Scott Russell said. “The judge listened to the evidence, listened to his side, listened to ours and said that he was removed from his position for job performance issues only.”

Mr. Lake was counseled for his actions four times and was sent for additional instruction and retraining on proper vehicle traffic stops and searches, according to the police chief’s affidavit.

The latest complaint, which was filed Aug. 17, claims Mr. Lake “was never issued any written negative reviews.” His attorney, Eric Bressler, was not available for comment.

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File courtesy photo: From left, Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone, Southold Town police officer Garrett Lake and police chief Martin Flatley during the 2016 awards ceremony.

Clarification: An earlier version of this article mischaracterized the refiling of Mr. Lake’s lawsuit as new suit. 

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