Jurors side with officer who voiced concerns

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EUGENE, Ore. (AP) — Federal court jurors say Eugene police officials violated the free speech rights of an officer who questioned the safety of working with the city’s SWAT team.

Brian Hagen sued the city after he was transferred from his “dream job” with the department’s K-9 unit to the traffic unit. He contended he was punished because he expressed concern with the SWAT team’s accidental weapon discharges.

The Eugene Register-Guard reports (http://is.gd/Z7XtQf ) that jurors on Wednesday night ordered the city to pay Hagen $200,000 in punitive damages and $50,000 in compensatory damages. Hagen had sought $600,000.

Eugene Police Chief Pete Kerns said the department would study the verdict “and decide how best to proceed.”

Eugene police Sgt. Tom Eichhorn says he transferred Hagen because of a pattern of disrespect and insubordination.

Hagen left the Eugene department last year to take a job with the Clackamas County sheriff’s office.

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Information from: The Register-Guard, http://www.registerguard.com