(Alex Schmidt/Shutterstock) Credit: Alex Schmidt / Shutterstock

Earlier this month, a federal judge ordered Connecticut’s Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection to turn over every internal affairs report related to the use of deadly force from 2010 until the present. 

The information will be used to determine whether Joseph Mercer, a former Connecticut State Trooper, was knocked out of his command post for an October 2015 shooting of a robbery suspect or because he refused to pay union dues. 

Mercer, who is represented by the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, alleges that the Connecticut State Police Union and state officials kicked him out of the post because he exercised his First Amendment rights to refrain from union membership and oppose the union’s political activity.

The lawsuit was filed back in 2016. 

According to the complaint, Connecticut State Police Union President Andrew Matthews filed a grievance against Mercer saying he mismanaged the shooting incident where an armed suspect barricaded himself in a hotel room. According to Mercer’s attorney, state police officials never expressed dissatisfaction with how Mercer handled the situation.

In October 2015, state officials transferred Mercer out of his Operations Sergeant position to an administrative post. That new position gave Mercer substantially fewer opportunities to work in the field or accrue overtime pay. Prior to this demotion, Mercer had received no warnings, reprimands, or other disciplinary actions regarding the incident referenced in Matthews’ grievance.  

Court documents show Matthews denies the allegations made by Mercer. He did not respond to requests to comment for this article. 

The state Attorney General’s office declined to comment on the pending litigation. 

Mercer’s lawsuit seeks his reinstatement as Operations Sergeant in the Emergency Services Division and compensatory damages for the decrease in his overtime pay opportunities. 

The federal court has already denied a motion to dismiss the case. 

“By compelling discovery in this case, the District Court brings Sergeant Mercer one step closer to defeating openly vindictive and unconstitutional behavior by CSPU union officials and their allies in state government. They wreaked havoc on Mercer’s career simply because he disagreed with the union’s politics,” National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix said. “We’ve been proud to fight alongside Sergeant Mercer the past few years and will continue to do so until his rights and career are restored.”