Former Columbia police lieutenant suing the city and police chief

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COLUMBIA - Former lieutenant for Columbia Police Department's downtown unit, Chris Kelley, is suing the city of Columbia, current police chief Ken Burton and the former deputy chief of the department Dianne Bernhard for violating the Family Medical Leave Act and the Missouri Human Rights Act.

According to court documents, Kelley said he was not allowed to return to work for the department after taking time off in 2012 for mental health treatment. Kelley was hospitalized for issues related to paranoia and alleges Burton told him that his reinstatement would be pending the results of a mental health evaluation.

In the lawsuit, Kelley claimed after completing his treatment in 2013, his physician signed a standardized evaluation created by the city. Bernhard felt this evaluation was insufficient and requested an additional evaluation to be conducted by the city of Columbia's medical adviser. The second evaluation found that Kelley was unfit for duty and the city denied Kelley's appeal for a third examination by a third adviser. Shortly thereafter, Burton suggested Kelley apply for a Reasonable Accommodation, Long Term Disability, Disability Retirement or a civilian job with the department, but Kelley refused. He was discharged from employment on Oct. 30, 2013.

According to Kelley's petition, The Missouri Human Rights Commission issued him a "right to sue" letter in April. Kelley was part of the downtown unit and was an officer for 16 years. 

Kelley has been advised by his lawyers, Kansas City attorneys Mike Miller and Morgan Roach, not to comment on the ongoing lawsuit. The city's Risk Management Division will be handling the case, per City Counselor Nancy Thompson.

The Columbia Police Department declined to comment on the pending lawsuit.