COLUMBIA, Mo. - A Columbia attorney accused the city's deputy police chief of hiding from a subpoena related to a lawsuit from his client.
In a news release late Wednesday, Stephen Wyse said he filed "dual criminal and Internal Affairs complaints" against Deputy Chief Jill Schlude. Wyse claims Schlude "conspired with other members" of the department to avoid being served the subpoena by a private investigator in late March.
Wyse represents Matthew Akins, who runs the activist group Citizens for Justice. Akins filed a federal lawsuit against the department, Chief Ken Burton and many others for three years worth of contacts and arrests he claims were in retaliation for his work at Citizens for Justice. Akins and Wyse appealed Judge Nanette Laughrey's decision to dismiss the case in August.
The internal affairs complaint details private investigator Rick Gurley's attempt to serve Schlude with the subpoena March 28, 2016 to give a deposition. Gurley said he tried several times to serve Schlude at the administrative office that afternoon. Denise Shaw, an administrative technician, said Schlude was busy in her office, and she did not feel comfortable interrupting her work. Schlude never accepted the subpoena, Gurley wrote, and Wyse's legal team had to arrange the deposition through the city's lawyer.
"We have due process rights, we have trial rights that we were denied," Wyse told ABC 17 News.
Public information officer Sgt. Robert Dochler told ABC 17 News he could not comment on a pending investigation.
The internal affairs complaint claims Gurley came back the next day to serve Schlude and Shaw with subpoenas. When he arrived, a black bag covered Shaw's window, and another woman who said she was Shaw's supervisor answered the door. That woman claimed Shaw, Schlude and Burton "would be out all week."
Wyse deposed Schlude the next week. Schlude explained she knew someone was trying to serve her a subpoena that day, but she was busy with scheduled meetings. Chief Burton's absence that week left her with more responsibilities.
"None of these were valid excuses," Wyse said. "She knew there was a subpoena. All she had to do was come to the door, accept the subpoena and be done."
Wyse said Schlude and others at CPD could be in violation of state law by interfering with Gurley's ability to serve the subpoena. Anyone who "obstructs" a process server's ability to serve a subpoena faces a class B misdemeanor, which carries a maximum six-month jail sentence.