After lawsuit by former police chief, Muncie pays law firm $48,000

MUNCIE, Ind. (WISH) -- I-Team 8 is exposing how many tax dollars a central Indiana city is spending to fight off a lawsuit from a former employee.

We have told you the former Muncie police chief filed a lawsuit naming Mayor Dennis Tyler and the city of Muncie.

In November, I-Team 8 first filed a request to find out how much of your money the city is spending on the suit. Several weeks later, even after Mayor Dennis Tyler insisted the city would be transparent, they refused to give us the information.

After denying two versions of our open records request, we filed a complaint with the Indiana public access counselor. He sided with I-Team 8, saying attorney compensation by a city is public record. The city of Muncie's personnel director said they disagree but would release the records anyway.

In the records, we found Muncie paid an Indianapolis law firm more than $48,000 in two months. The firm represents the city on several issues, but we tried to narrow our request to around the time the former police chief filed his lawsuit against the city.

In the lawsuit, filed Oct. 11, former police chief Steve Stewart said he was all but forced out and, when he left the city, he said his benefits were calculated incorrectly, shorting him thousands of dollars he said the city owes him.

The payments may also reflect other work done by the law firm before the suit against the city was filed.

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