Home News Local News Terminated probationary cop sues Southold Town again, seeking damages

Terminated probationary cop sues Southold Town again, seeking damages

Former Southold police officer Garrett Lake was honored by Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone in 2016 for being the Southold Town Police officer who made the most DWI arrests in 2015. Lake, a probationary employee, was terminated by the department later that month. Courtesy photo: Suffolk County executive's office

A former Southold cop whose employment was terminated a few days before his 18-month probationary period ended, has filed another lawsuit against the town.

Former police officer Garrett Lake sued the town last year seeking reinstatement to the police force but a State Supreme Court judge denied his claim in July.

Now Lake is seeking damages “for lost wages and benefits, stress, humiliation and mental anguish,” along with attorneys fees. The new lawsuit was filed last month and served on the Southold Town clerk on Friday afternoon.

Lake claims he lost his job “as a result of political pressure and unrelated to job performance.”

In the legal action he brought last year seeking reinstatemnt, Lake claimed his termination in May 2016 was because of two high-profile DWI arrests he made: the driver of the pickup truck in the fatal limousine crash on County Road 48 in Cutchogue in July 2015 and the Jamesport Fire Department assistant chief who crashed a fire department vehicle on Main Road in Southold in February 2016 and fled the scene.

Lake claimed the pickup truck driver was a close friend of a Southold Republican party official and a Suffolk County Police Department official and both officials pressured Southold Police Chief Martin Flatley to fire Lake. He also claimed that Jamesport Fire Department officials criticized Lake for arresting the assistant chief.

Southold Town said those arrests played no role in the decision to terminate Lake’s employment. The police chief provided affidavit testimony about Lake’s “overaggressive and overzealous use of police tactics in conducting vehicle traffics stops, searches and arrests,” according to the court’s July 17 decision denying Lake’s claim.

“Mr. Lake had his day in court,” Supervisor Scott Russell said. “The judge found what we have been saying all along — Mr. Lake was fired because of his unsatisfactory job performance and for no other reason,” Russell said.

Lake is represented in the lawsuit by Mattituck attorney Eric Bressler.

Denise Civiletti
Denise is a veteran local reporter and editor, an attorney and former Riverhead Town councilwoman. Her work has been recognized with numerous awards, including a “writer of the year” award from the N.Y. Press Association in 2015. She is a founder, owner and co-publisher of this website.