Former H.B. officer files claim against city

A former Huntington Beach police officer has filed a claim for more than half a million dollars against the city, saying officials terminated him wrongfully, released information about an internal investigation unlawfully and denied him a medical retirement package.

William Brubaker, who worked as an officer with the police department from 1992 until he was terminated in August, filed a claim that first was sent as a letter to City Manager Fred Wilson on Nov. 22.

The city's risk management office, which processes claims against the city, received it Jan. 9.

Brubaker became involved in an investigation regarding the handling of found property, in which he accidentally marked his wife's camera as found property with the police department, he said in the claim. Brubaker said he kept the camera, which contained pictures of his family going back a few years, in his patrol bag.

Although he was told not to disclose information about the investigation, he found out that people knew about it when he got a text message about the investigation from retired Hawthorne police officer Mark Hayes.

Brubaker said when he received the text message, he spoke to Hawthorne police Sgt. Steve Colquette, whom he considers a friend. Colquette told him that he found out about the investigation from another Hawthorne officer, who heard about the investigation from an unidentified member of the Huntington Beach Police Department, Brubaker said in the claim.

Brubaker's claim alleges that wrong information about the investigation was disclosed by the unidentified Huntington Beach Police Department member, causing him embarrassment and worsening a heart condition he had been battling for five years.

He also said he was terminated before he could finalize a medical retirement package with the city for his heart condition.

Capt. Russell Reinhart, however, said in an email that Brubaker filed for medical retirement after the investigation began.

"After this serious disciplinary process was initiated by our department, as an internal affairs investigation that eventually led to his termination, he applied for a disability retirement," he said.

The application for his disability retirement was denied, but not before it was lawfully considered by the city, Reinhart said.

The city is not disclosing more details about the nature of the investigation or why Brubaker was fired other than saying that his account of what happened is not accurate.

"We completely disagree with his portrayal of the facts in his letter to the city manager," Reinhart said.

Brubaker could not be reached for comment.

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