COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Columbia Police Interim Chief Ruben Santiago has officially filed a defamation suit against former police Capt. Dave Navarro, according to Santiago's attorney.
The suit comes after claims from Navarro that Santiago was setting up a plan to plant drugs and a stolen weapon inside of a top city official's car.
Santiago has since denied the allegations. The city fired Navarro Monday afternoon, citing insubordination, including resisting change and spreading rumors, the unauthorized recording of a phone conversation between Navarro and then-Deputy Chief Santiago, and shredding unknown documents.
The interim chief is being represented by state Rep. Todd Rutherford.
"Santiago, the chief of the city of Columbia, had nothing to do with this," said Rutherford. "He would not ever plant drugs on anybody. There's nothing in his past to indicate he would. His personnel record at the city of Columbia and the county is exemplary, as is former Chief Scott's. I challenge those to go and check David Navarro's record while he was at the county and see if he had the same exemplary record."
Rutherford says Santiago is determined to clear his name and filing a defamation lawsuit is the only way to do that.
"The only thing left for Chief Santiago to do is this; is to file a lawsuit to make sure everybody knows this is not something he's going to let pass by, this is not something he's going to let it go," said Rutherford. "He's very serious about protecting his reputation and the reputation of the city of Columbia Police Department"
The lawsuit will be filed Thursday and Santiago will seek monetary damages.
The State Law Enforcement Division said investigators have "begun an investigation" into the Columbia Police Department, but they have not specified what charges or allegations they are looking into.