Judge dismisses suspended police officer's privacy complaint against mayor
A judge has dismissed an accusation of invasion of privacy against York City Mayor Michael Helfrich brought by a suspended police officer
The amended complaint by Officer Clayton Swartz in his lawsuit seeking to be reinstated, which claimed Helfrich invaded his privacy by releasing a photo of a notice of administrative leave to a reporter, was dismissed by Judge Matthew Menges on Thursday.
Swartz was suspended amid accusation that he reenacted the murder of George Floyd in 2020 during a graduation party.
More:Suspended York City officer accuses mayor of leaking confidential material
More:York City will pay at least $5,000 for outside counsel in mayor oath lawsuit
More:Man faces life in 2017 slaying of teenager protecting kids
"We dismiss Officer Swartz' invasion of privacy claim with prejudice as well," Menges said in his opinion. "We find no merit in Officer Swartz' claim in light of the materials released to the public. As noted by Officer Swartz in his brief in opposition, the right to privacy is not absolute."
The addition of "with prejudice" means Swartz cannot refile the same claim in court.
The judge went on to say that the only material released from Swartz' personnel file was a letter saying he was being placed on paid leave.
"Officer Swartz alleges this letter was released to one reporter, but does not allege it was release in its entirety beyond that, i.e. to the general public," the opinion stated. "Interestingly, while Officer Swartz claims that the release of this document was an invasion of privacy, he files it as a public exhibit to a public court filing, without redaction or protection as a confidential document. We simply cannot justify further court action in light of these circumstances."
>> Please consider subscribing to support local journalism.
Swartz accused Helfrich of texting confidential information to the reporter during the early days of the investigation.
Attorneys for Swartz updated the complaint in his civil lawsuit to seek reinstatement to include the invasion of privacy claim. Swartz was seeking $50,000 in damages for the the invasion of privacy claim.
The trial pertaining to Swartz' reinstatement is scheduled to begin on July 11.
The complaint cited a series of Helfrich's text messages, including exchanges with a reporter and with a friend about the internal investigation into Swartz.
— Reach Anthony Maenza at firstname.lastname@example.org or @atmaenza on Twitter.