EMS captain sues city for being fired over Facebook post
Jamie Marquardt said in a lawsuit that the posts appeared on his Facebook page after spending a night talking down a suicidal man he knew by the name "Donnie"
By Eric Heisig
Advance Ohio Media
CLEVELAND, Ohio — A former Cleveland emergency medical services captain fired in 2016 for posts on his Facebook account about 12-year-old Tamir Rice's death is suing the city, claiming his rights were violated and that someone else put up the posts on his account.
Jamie Marquardt, who was hired by the city in 1991, claims in a lawsuit filed Monday that the posts appeared on his Facebook page after spending most of a February 2016 night talking down a suicidal man he only knew by the name "Donnie."
When he woke up, Donnie was gone and there were at least two offensive posts on his Facebook page, with one saying "I am glad he is dead," the lawsuit says. While Marquardt deleted them and told people he had nothing to do with the posts, the city fired him in March 2016.
Marquardt's lawsuit says the city and EMS Commissioner Nicole Carlton violated his constitutional rights. Even though he says he didn't publish the offensive posts, they consisted of constitutionally protected speech, which means the discipline was unlawful.
He says the policies the city cited to fire him are unconstitutional and is asking for an unnamed amount in damages.
City spokesman Dan Williams did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Tamir died in November 2014 after he was shot by a Cleveland police officer outside a West Side recreation center. The boy reached for an airsoft replica gun the officers thought was real.
The city settled a lawsuit filed by Rice's family for $6 million.
Marquardt said Donnie, whom the lawsuit only describes as an "acquaintance," showed up at his home unannounced and was agitated and suicidal. He said he stayed up all night trying to help Donnie. He was able to go to sleep after 5 a.m. and he left his cellphone on his kitchen table, according to the lawsuit.
When he woke up, Donnie was gone. Marquardt picked up his cellphone and saw a number of messages and texts from friends related to posts on his Facebook page, he claims.
Those posts said:
"Let me be the first on record to have the balls to say Tamir Rice should have been shot and I am glad he is dead. I wish I was in the park that day as he terrorized innocent patrons by pointing a gun at them walking around acting bad I am upset I did not get the chance to kill the criminal f----r."
"Stop Kevin. How would you feel if you were walking in the park and some ghetto rat pointed a gun in your face. Would you look to him as a hero? Cleveland sees this felony [sic] hood rat as a hero..."
He was "appalled" and deleted the posts, the lawsuit says. He wrote in another Facebook post that "I do not believe or stand for what was written. If my good friends did not text me, I would have never known it was there," according to the lawsuit.
Marquardt also texted Carlton and said he did not write those posts and that they did not reflect his beliefs, his lawsuit says.
The lawsuit says the city's actions have led him to be "chilled from engaging in constitutionally protected expression" and that he has lost job opportunities.
The case is assigned to U.S. District Judge Solomon Oliver Jr.
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