A trial date has been set for a longtime West Richland resident’s federal lawsuit against the city.
Kenneth L. Cronk, a former law enforcement officer, sued the city and several officials, including a former mayor, in 2014.
The lawsuit alleges the city violated his First, Fourth and 14th Amendment rights when it issued a no-trespassing order preventing him from visiting city property or addressing the city council during the public comment portion of its meetings.
The case is set for a pretrial hearing July 6. A five-day federal jury trial is set to start July 18 in front of U.S. District Court Judge Edward Shea in Richland.
Cronk amended his complaint in 2015.
Cronk said he sued to get the city to lift the no-trespassing order and would have abandoned the case if he’d succeeded.
“Money was not the issue,” he said.
City officials were not available to comment on the pending litigation. In a court filing, it denied the allegations outlined in the complaint.
Cronk said he rejected a $7,500 offer to settle the case, saying he’s spent more than $10,000 on filing fees and office supplies. He is represented by Richland attorney Gary D. Spencer.
Conflict between Cronk and the city escalated in 2012, when he was arrested in his yard as he spoke with an official of the Washington Department of Social and Health Services regarding his frustration over mental health care and services available to members of his family, according to an amended complaint filed in March 2015.
The complaint says the officer asked if he had threatened to shoot anyone at any state agencies. Cronk denied threatening to shoot or otherwise harm anyone.
Cronk said the officer “attempted to coerce a confession” and then took him into custody.
The complaint says Cronk was placed in handcuffs after informing the officer he’d had multiple surgeries to his shoulders and was disabled, then shoved to the ground.
He was taken to the emergency room at Kadlec Regional Medical Center in Richland and was later released after a visit with a counselor from the Benton County Crisis Response Unit.
The suit seeks an award of nominal damages, compensatory damages and punitive damages as determined by a jury, as well as the cost of litigation and reasonable attorney fees.