U.S. District Court Judge Richard L. Williams dismissed the City of Alexandria yesterday as a defendant in an $850,000 civil rights lawsuit. He also dismissed several allegations against the defendant, Public Safety Director Charles T. Strobel, but permitted others to remain.
Williams, sitting in Alexandria, ruled that allegations by Alexandria police officers Joseph Morrash and Morton Ford and former city police detective Charles Cox that the city had tolerated violations of their constitutional and civil rights by Strobel were not supported by facts in the court record. His ruling effectively eliminated Cox from the case.
The judge said Morrash, Ford and Cox had failed to show that there was "a persistent practice of constitutional deprivations by city officials or a known history of widespread abuse."
Part of the basis for the suit was allegations by the three that Strobel improperly ended a drug investigation. Morrash and Ford also contended that Strobel improperly transferred them to new posts in the police department because they objected to Strobel's handling of an internal investigation of allegations involving another police officer.
Williams allowed to stand allegations by Morrash and Ford that Strobel failed to afford them due process in ordering their transfers.
He dismissed allegations by Ford that Strobel violated his First Amendment right to freedom of association, but left intact a similar allegation by Morrash.
He said the evidence presented so far raises a question whether Strobel transferred Morrash "at least in part because he associated with others who challenged the manner in which . . . Strobel handled" an internal investigation involving allegations against another police officer.