MASON CITY, Iowa – A federal lawsuit against the Mason City Police Department and two officers regarding an alleged civil rights violation has been settled.
The complaint was brought forward last year by 40-year-old Kristopher “Kit” Alcorn, of Clear Lake, who claimed his rights were violated in the investigation and aftermath of an assault case in which he was arrested, charged and acquitted.
Alcorn, a former police officer in Newell, said in the complaint that he was falsely accused of attacking a Menards employee in Mason City in July 2014. He claimed Officer Stratton Steffy didn’t thoroughly investigate the allegations, ignored a lack of evidence and didn’t consider the employee’s background, which he alleged included previous cases of false workplace injuries to gain benefits.
Alcorn was charged with assault causing bodily injury or mental illness — the case was taken to trial and dismissed the same day.
“I was at the wrong spot, wrong time. We still don’t know how this officer decided it was me,” Alcorn told KIMT News 3 on Wednesday. “This settlement can’t erase what happened. I’m just hoping the people involved learn from it and the policies they have promised to implement will make sure this doesn’t happen again.”
Alcorn had also claimed the officers harassed and retaliated against him and his business, Quality Pump and Control, when they learned he was considering the lawsuit. He alleged that several officers, including Officer Jason Stiles, posted disparaging remarks on Facebook and increased patrols around his business. Alcorn said in the complaint that the stress from this forced him to seek medical help.
The parties involved negotiated the settlement on Nov. 15. The Mason City Council was informed of it the next day in a closed session meeting.
Altogether, Alcorn will receive $137,500 in damages. Part of the agreement states that Alcorn cannot sue the department for further issues.
The City Council will meet Dec. 6 and vote to approve the final settlement agreement.
A letter from Chief Jeff Brinkley to Alcorn reads:
“Please allow this letter to serve as an acknowledgement that the criminal case against Mr. Alcorn was dismissed at the request of the state of Iowa due to the lack of witness identification of Mr. Alcorn as the perpetrator. The Mason City Police Department has agreed not to object to Mr. Alcorn’s request to have his criminal record expunged accordingly. The Mason City Police Department regrets that a more thorough investigation was not completed and apologizes for any stress or disorder that this situation may have caused you. In addition, the Mason City Police Department agrees to develop and implement a department policy related to best practices for incident report writing.”
“I’m glad it’s finally over,” Alcorn said. “I’ve always had respect for law enforcement and I still do, but the issue I have is how something of this magnitude can happen and no one involved from my knowledge was disciplined for their actions. There was a huge mistake that happened here, and before this lawsuit the only one who suffered consequences was me. I was put on trial and so it discourages me on so many levels that people should have talked, this should have never gone to trial.”