ATHENS, Ga. (AP) — A former University of Georgia police officer has threatened to file a $5 million lawsuit against the state Board of Regents after he was fired for refusing to arrest two drunk, underage students who needed medical help, his lawyer said Thursday.
Former officer Jay Park thought the students were protected under a new alcohol and drug amnesty law and was fired for trying to clarify the meaning of the law with local state lawmakers, the ex-officer's attorney, Michael Puglise, told The Associated Press.
Park responded to a 911 call from worried friends of an 18-year-old UGA student who was seen stumbling on campus Sept. 26, according WAGA-TV (http://bit.ly/1EbPSJK). Park called his supervisor to ask if the student was protected under a new medical amnesty law, but he was told to arrest her, Puglise said.
The amnesty law, enacted about a year ago, allows people to seek medical help for those who are intoxicated without fear of being arrested for an alcohol or drug-related offense. Concerned he had made an illegal arrest, Park called several state lawmakers the following day to try to clarify the law.
"They said Jay Park was right and these citizens shouldn't have been arrested under the amnesty law," Puglise said.
Park later refused to arrest two more underage drinkers after a resident adviser sought medical help for them.
Campus police Chief Jimmy Williamson told WAGA-TV that Park was fired for repeated insubordination.
Puglise said Park is entitled to whistleblower protection and has notified university officials of his client's intent to sue. Officials for the University of Georgia did not immediately respond to a request for comment about the threatened legal action.