Settled candidate: Would-be Sheriff part of '06 suit

news-bairdMike Baird is a candidate for the sheriff's job once held by his father, Carlton Baird.
PUBLICITY PHOTO

Usually for Mike Baird, a captain with the Charlottesville sheriff's office and now a Democratic candidate for sheriff, the job includes maintaining order in the city's circuit court. Three years ago, however, Baird found himself answering orders of the court after a lawsuit was filed there against him.

City resident Steven W. Shifflett charged that Baird knowingly made false statements to an Alexandria police officer that resulted in Shifflett getting arrested for impersonating an officer.

According to the suit, Baird also went so far as to "willfully, wantonly and maliciously" interfere with Shifflett's effort to become a member of the Elks' Lodge, a family-oriented fraternal lodge.

Shifflett, a former Greene County and Charlottesville deputy, sought $2 million in compensatory damages, $2 million in punitive damages and a trebling of damages awarded against the six defendants in his lawsuit, which include retired Charlottesville Police Sergeant Richard Hudson and two Alexandria police officers.

For Shifflett, it was the second time he'd been arrested for impersonating an officer, and he contends both times were false arrests. The first incident was 1997, when charges were lodged and then dropped against Shifflett, then a Greene County deputy, and the record of the case was expunged.

The second incident was December 16, 2004, when an Alexandria man was stopped by a male wearing a badge and identifying himself as an officer. Because the alleged impersonator had a license plate and car similar to Shifflett's, when Alexandria police called Charlottesville, according to the suit, Baird and Hudson mentioned Shifflett's earlier arrest for impersonating an officer, a charge both knew had been dismissed and expunged, the suit alleges.

Shifflett was arrested, even though he contended he's never set foot in Alexandria and didn't match the victim's description: a Hispanic male, 25 years old, 5 feet 8 inches tall, 140 pounds with thick black hair. Shifflett is not Hispanic, was then over 50 years old, as well as taller and heavier–- and had graying hair and a mustache.

The Alexandria charges against Shifflett were thrown out in April 2005, and he filed his lawsuit the following January.

Baird settled the case April 21, 2008, and the terms of the agreement are confidential, says Shifflett's attorney, David Simonsen of Richmond, who says he also expects to settle with Alexandria officers John Crawford and Julie Goble before their scheduled July 13 trial.

A court date has not been set for Shifflett's case against Hudson.

"I will say that I never felt that Mike Baird was trying to be malicious," says Simonsen. "I think it was an unfortunate situation that he got pulled into. The way it played out was damaging to Steve, but I never thought it was malicious. You can tell by how quickly he settled."

Baird had not returned phone calls from the Hook at post time. He's vying for the Democratic nomination for sheriff in its firehouse primary May 9 against Albemarle police Officer James E. Brown III and Charlottesville Police Sergeant Phillip E. Brown.

6 comments

Stanley, in reference to your #3 above, Shifflett has never been accused of pulling over anybody in Albemarle County. Not when he was a Charlottesville deputy sheriff, nor when he was a Greene County deputy sheriff, a time span of almost three decades. Feel free to believe all the official police press releases you want. During the 1996 false arrest by a county police rookie, he was returning home from Radio Shack where he had purchased his then 4-year-old daughter a toy. I won’t even describe the mental anguish his 4-year-old daughter was put through that night, it would take 8 hours. The traffic stop was originally for tinted windows, windows allowed Mr Shifflett by a Virginia State Police exemption certificate. The certificate was confiscated and called a forgery. A state trooper confirmed the certificate was authentic. You never saw this information in any press releases, did you? HAHAHA!

Now, moving on, what you might be speaking of is one evening when he was behind a drunk driver on Route 20 North. She was from ditch to ditch across both lanes and physically running other motorists off the road. Shifflett called the county police and requested they send somebody to stop this girl before she killed somebody in a headon collision. In the meantime, the girl pulled over to light a cigarette. Shifflett also pulled over, reached in, turned the ignition off, and kept her car keys until Officer Glen Fink arrived and did in fact arrest the girl for drunk driving. The girl later entered a plea of guilty in court and was convicted. Shifflett most likely save somebody’s life by snatching the car keys away from this girl until the on duty cop from Albemarle County arrived. Officer Glen Fink deserves a lot of credit for getting the scene as fast as he did!

While I have never been able to confirm the exact name and other pertinent identification, a girl by the same name later killed two pedestrians in drunken hit & run accidents in the Henrico County area. She never even knew she had hit the pedestrians.

Steve, I find in funny you keep speaking of yourself in the third person.

Stan, help me understand here. What am I missing? The man has 2 judgments against people who printed libelous material on the Internet about him, these judgments collecting interest until paid in full. (Sorta like your #3 above) He has had 3 cops settle lawsuits out of court, one of which was fired for wrongdoing. He has 2 cops who recently announced their intent to settle out of court. And he still has a pending lawsuit against a recently retired Charlottesville cop. In one case, the judge called the cops liars to face in the courtroom while still on record. It’s in the trial transcript. In another case the judge left the courtroom, entered his chambers and told his baliff he couldn’t believe the entire chain of command in a police department had just committed perjury in his courtroom. This judge retired shortly after this, I think he had seen enough.

If people like you were to believe everything you read in official police press releases, please tell me why not one single lawsuit has been contested as a frivolous lawsuit? Have you ever known a law enforcement agency to say, ââ?¬Å?Whoops, we screwed up big time!ââ?¬Å?? After Albemarle County fought Shifflett’s lawsuit tooth and nail for almost seven years (1997-2003), why did they magically decide to settle Shifflett’s lawsuit against them as soon as the judge set a definite date for a jury to hear the lawsuit? Why has no law enforcement agency been able to have any lawsuit filed by Shifflett tossed out of court?

Stan, the question you need to ask yourself is why no commonwealth attorney in any jurisdiction has elected to investigate any cop involved in the Shifflett false arrests. Especially when a Circuit Court judge sits in open court and calls the cops liars to their faces.

Lisa, are you now trying out for Fox News?
When Shifflett called to plant this did you even research the story, at all, other than to call his attorney. Try Google next time.
When Shifflett called did you ask him the most simple of questions?
1. Did the victim in the case identify you in court as the man who pulled him over?
2. Why, when you were arrested Steve, did you have numerous badges on you, including one from the Virginia State Police?
3. Do you deny pulling the person over in Albemarle when you were an unpaid aux. deputy in Green County?

Stan, obviously, since Shifflett isn't giving anybody any money and has been awarded money indicates to the public that he has been exonerated whether you like it or him or not. You've lost this argument big time.
Thanks for the article.

CVille Eye, his or her name isn't "Stan".

According to court documents, "Stan" is the name of one of the first cops who settled out of court in the 1997 false arrest of Shifflett. Had the lawsuit gone to court, the sheriff and a sheriff's captain from the Greene County Sheriff's Office would have been testifying against the "Stan".

After their fighting Shifflett's lawsuit tooth and nail from 1997 to 2003, I am a firm believer it was settled out of court because the cops didn't want their dirty laundry hung out for the public to see.