The Gang Member Firefighter Case

September 3, 2014

All Posts, News

An interesting civil lawsuit that has lingered in federal court since last January and had lingered in Santa Cruz County Superior Court for two months before that, was refiled Monday in the Federal Northern District of California in San Jose.

A  South Lake Tahoe, Nevada paramedic named Kristopher Klay is suing the Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office, the Watsonville Police Department, the City of South Lake Tahoe and a “gang investigator” named Stefan Fish for the damage done to Klay’s life after he was stopped by members of the Santa Cruz County Gang Task Force for belonging to an Emergency Medical Technician’s club called the Guerillas Motorcycle Club.

The Suit

The lawsuit: “seeks to remedy the harm suffered by (Klay) when he was called, inter alia, (inter alia is lawyer’s Latin for ‘among other things’) a ‘Gang Member Firefighter,’ accused of gang activities and subsequently fired from his position as a firefighter at the South Lake Tahoe Fire Department. (“SLTFD”) The allegations arise as a result of Plaintiff’s unlawful stop and detention by law enforcement officers while he was riding motorcycles with a friend and fellow emergency medical technician colleague in Watsonville. Plaintiff was never charged with nor convicted of any crime but nevertheless Defendants took it upon themselves to reach out to Plaintiff’s employer, the SLTFD, and alerted them to the detention of Plaintiff and communicated defamatory statements claiming that Plaintiff participated in and was a member of a criminal street gang. Plaintiff’s employer then sought out, received and used the Watsonville Police Report detailing Plaintiff’s stop and detention to terminate Plaintiff from his position as a firefighter.”

“The allegations arose as a result of an unlawful stop and detention by Watsonville and Santa Cruz law enforcement officers of Plaintiff, on or about May 3, 2013…. He was traveling via motorcycle in Watsonville, Santa Cruz County with a fellow worker and friend. Plaintiff and his colleague were wearing vests with patches. Law enforcement officers pulled behind them and activated their emergency lights and sirens causing Plaintiff and his colleague to pull over. Law enforcement officers stated that the purpose of the stop was related to the registration of the colleague’s motorcycle. The motorcycle was properly registered. Plaintiff was thereafter detained, questioned about his employment and was required to submit to being photographed. Plaintiff was not arrested or charged with any crime. Despite this, Defendants reported the detention to Plaintiff’s employer referring to him as a member of a criminal street gang. Subsequently, Plaintiff was terminated from his position as a firefighter.”


In a response filed last January to Klay’s original complaint, the Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office and gang investigator Fish list 18 separate defense including:

“Defendants did not act with malicious intent and did not deprive plaintiff of any right, privilege, or immunity guaranteed by the Constitution or laws of the United States.”

“Defendant Fish is entitled to qualified immunity, as he acted at all times herein relevant in good faith, with due care, within the scope of discretion, and pursuant to laws, regulations, rules, and practices reasonably believed to be in accordance with the Constitution and laws of the United States. There is no liability pursuant to the Federal Civil Rights Act where one acts in good faith and entertains an honest, reasonable belief that one’s actions are in accord with the clearly-established law.”

“The allegedly defamatory statements alleged in the complaint were made, if at all, in the proper discharge of an official duty in a judicial or other official proceeding authorized by law or in the initiation or in the course of a proceeding authorized by law and/or they are immunized under Civil Code section 47(c).”

And, “The statements alleged in the complaint were not false. To the contrary, they were substantially truthful, if made at all, and any statements which were not substantially truthful were made by others.”

Watsonville’s song and dance is:

“That at all times mentioned in the complaint, the Plaintiff (Klay) so carelessly, recklessly, and negligently conducted and maintained himself so as to cause and contribute in some degree to the alleged incident and to the damages and injuries, if any, alleged to have been sustained by said Plaintiffs and therefore said negligence completely bars any recovery or, in the alternative, it reduces the right of recovery by the amount of said negligence contributed to this incident as set forth under the doctrine of comparative negligence”

“If it should be found that the City is in any manner legally responsible for damages, if any, sustained by Plaintiffs, which the City specifically denies, then such damages were legally caused or contributed to by Plaintiffs or unnamed persons and parties; therefore, it is necessary that the proportionate and comparative degree of fault of each and every said person or entity be determined and prorated and that any judgment rendered against this defendant be reduced not only by that degree of fault found to exist as to other parties, but by the total of that degree of fault found to exist as to other persons or entities, including non-parties.

And finally, “The City is not liable for any act or omission resulting from the use of due care in the execution or enforcement of the law.”

The City of South Lake Tahoe has not yet responded to complaint filed Monday. All the defendants have until September to respond to the amended complaint and Klay will have a week to reply to those responses.

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60 Responses to “The Gang Member Firefighter Case”

  1. Mag Says:

    @Warthog – hang in there, family troubles are always the hardest as it’s personal, not business.

    Good luck and stay strong. Some advice I was given once by a friend about family situations still rings true:

    “It is going to get worse before it gets better.

    “It is not going to get better, for a long time.

    “It will get better.”

    Those three truths helped me see my way through three horribly bitter, expensive, destructive and overwhelmingly horrific years of divorce and custody litigation and come out on the other side alive and whole (and with sole custody).

    Again – hang in there man. It will get worse before it gets better. It will not get better for a long time. It will get better.

    – Asskiller

  2. Road Whore Says:

    @ WARTHOG: Good on ya. Hope this crap passes uneventfully for you. Looks to me like there might be a false arrest suit you can bring here?

    Ride Free

  3. Oldskewl Says:

    The Santa Cruz “gang force” are made up of a bunch of pussy ass punks that take great pride in ruining someones day.
    There are two clubs in the Santa Cruz / Ben Lomand area, HAMC and Ghost Mountain Riders. Years ago I stopped at one of the CH’s and stayed the night, the next day I was pulled over less than a mile from the driveway. Bike was towed and I was jailed for driving on a suspended and obstruction.

    They kept my scooter for 30 days and when it was all said and done it cost me about $2500 to get it from the tow yard, a cop owned tow yard at that. I was harassed for about 45 mins when simply trying to pay the tow yard and get my shit back.
    My leather and vest were taken from a roll bag I strapped on the bike as well.

    Fuck those cock suckers.

  4. RtC Says:

    WARTHOG, bit late with best wishes to you in this bunch of shit. Think
    Road Whore has a good question about false arrest, but, with the way
    things are these daze… would that end up causing you more grief with
    these f’n pigs? Give them an excuse to constantly harass you. BUT there
    is also that recording solution. I had trouble here & bought this “pen”
    (it also WRITES!) that video’d the offending bastards.After the judge
    saw the evidence my problems stopped. I’m not really fond of technology,
    but this little gadgit saved me from getting myself into some really
    deep shit! I got it from It’s called a
    Camcorder Pen & runs about $60.00. It saved me prison time!!!
    RESPECTS for the REAL

  5. 7of9 Says:

    @Meh – That New Yorker article is quite the frightening rabbit hole. Thank you for sharing it.

  6. Jim666 Says:

    Best way to talk to cops is “DON`T” The other best way is through sign language,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

    “When we do right nobody remembers,
    When we do wrong nobody forgets”

  7. Namens Says:

    It’s amazing how the State Legislative powers makes up all of these mumble jumble laws to try and cover LE’s actions. Big Brother is friggin taking our rights away. Cops can get away w/anything now. This is all bullshit.

  8. ap Says:

    So will this go for Blue Knights,wild pigs,and whatever other le pig clubs are around? Guessing not. Of course this guy didnt know to shut up. All you need to say is nothing and if they keep asking say lawyer. I dont even say hello back. Ftf ftp acab. Just out to ruin lives.

  9. WARTHOG Says:

    @ RtC,

    That may be a possibility after the trial and I’m found innocent.




  10. ap Says:

    There is also smart phone apps that record straight to the website so if they destroy your phone the video is already uploaded. My lawyer has password to my account incase I cant access it. Hit icon stick phone in vest pocket with camera sticking out. I turned a cop trying an illegal search into a yessir public servant that advised me to slow down with that once.

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