MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WBTW) — A former Myrtle Beach police officer has filed a lawsuit against the city claiming he was fired over a workers’ comp claim.
The lawsuit was filed April 1 by former officer Michael Dodd. Dodd was hired by the Myrtle Beach Police Department in September 2016 as a patrolman, according to the lawsuit. He was promoted to Patrolman First Class and received a raise around the end of 2017 and beginning of 2018.
Dodd had to take leave to recover from back surgery in October 2018, according to the lawsuit. After returning, Dodd was injured in a use-of-force incident in December 2018 after a suspect fought with him, the lawsuit says.
The lawsuit claims Dodd notified the city in writing of his on-the-job injury and was out of work for five-and-a-half months. The lawsuit claims that the city “brushed his injury and incident under the rug” and didn’t offer help.
On March 13, 2020, Dodd was involved in an incident on the job with another officer. According to the lawsuit, Dodd saw an “NYPD” training booklet on the table and handed it to another officer in a joking way as to say “go back to training.”
The other officer took the book and hit Dodd in the face with it, the lawsuit says. Dodd shoved the other officer back and the officer fell on a table behind him.
The lawsuit says the other officer said he didn’t mean to hit Dodd in the face with the book and Dodd said he reacted in the heat of the moment after feeling disrespected. Both officers moved on and worked together with no issues.
Dodd was placed on administrative duty until the incident was resolved, and continued speaking with the other officer during that time, according to the lawsuit. During the investigation, the staff said they looked up to Dodd as a leader on the shift and saw the incident as isolated.
According to the lawsuit, Dodd was never disciplined for any actions when dealing with the public, especially when dealing with suspects involved in more serious crimes.
The lawsuit claims Dodd was the only officer disciplined in the incident and the younger officer who never had a workman’s’ comp claim was not disciplined.
On April 8, 2020, Dodd was fired, according to the lawsuit. Before being fired, he had a meeting with the Command Staff to determine what his punishment would be and they recommended suspension. The lawsuit claims the police chief and city manager decided to fire him anyways, rather than suspend him.
Dodd said he didn’t find another job for seven-and-a-half months after being fired and had to take a position with “significantly” less income, according to the lawsuit.
Dodd is seeking actual damages from the city in the amount of lost wages and benefits, along with future lost wages and benefits.
When reached for comment, the City of Myrtle Beach said they don’t comment on pending litigation.
Read the full lawsuit below.