By Greg Bird
A relative of Darren Kidd, the 35-year-old man who went missing last year, has filed a civil lawsuit in federal court against Sheriff Randy Waters, accusing him of malicious prosecution for her outspoken criticism of how the investigation was handled.
The lawsuit, filed last month by Tracy Gibson in the United States District Court in London, is seeking more than $250,000 in damages against the Sheriff for “excessive use of force upon Plaintiff (Gibson), malicious prosecution, false imprisonment and other unconstitutional practices.”
In the court filing Gibson states Sheriff Waters swore out a criminal complaint against her on June 11 alleging she “unlawfully, with intention to annoy or alarm to cause public inconvenience – the defendant has repeatedly informed the public that law enforcement had discovered a body and evidence in an ongoing investigation of a missing person.”
Gibson claims the complaint was issued after a citizen submitted an affidavit referencing a phone call she had received from Gibson stating a body had been found on Round Top Road on June 5. A charge of disorderly conduct was sought against Gibson based partially off the affidavit and an arrest warrant was issued.
“As a result of the issuance of the Warrant for her arrest, four county and state law enforcement officers…appeared at Plaintiff Gibson’s home and she was rousted, with physical force, from her bed, arrested and transported some 100 miles to the Leslie County Detention Center,” the lawsuit claims.
Ultimately, the case against Gibson was dismissed with prejudice on December 19 at the recommendation of then-County Attorney Conley Chaney. The dismissal with prejudice indicates the charges cannot be filed again.
In the lawsuit Gibson claims she was targeted for arrest due to her interest in the investigation of the death of Darren Kidd and her support of Gus Skinner – at the time a candidate running for Sheriff against Waters.
Gibson is being represented by attorney David Cross, of Albany.
The attorney representing Sheriff Waters, Jason Williams of London, filed a response to the complaint last week calling for the case to be dismissed and denying all allegations of wrongdoing. The response noted the Sheriff also has qualified immunity from legal actions arising from doing his official duty.
It also stated any damages suffered by the Plaintiff in the case are a result of her own negligence or negligence or acts of some third party, and are in no way related to the acts of Sheriff Waters.
Federal District Court Judge Claria Horn Boom issued an order last week calling for both sides to meet to discuss the possibility of reaching a settlement or resolution to the case without a trial. If no agreement can be reached, the Judge asks both parties to prepare a timeline for discovery.
Darren Kidd was first reported missing in January 2018, and was the subject of several intense searches over the next few months. His body was recovered in Marsh Creek in April, and no evidence of foul play was discovered.