Former WPD Chief Gordon Ramsay announces intent to sue City of Wichita

Former Wichita Police Chief Gordon Ramsay joins deputy chief's letter of intent.
Published: Nov. 21, 2022 at 11:51 AM CST
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - In a notice unveiled Monday, Nov. 21, an attorney representing former Wichita Police Department Chief Gordon Ramsay announced the former chief’s intention to sue the City of Wichita. In the notice from Wichita Attorney James Thompson, Ramsay accuses city leaders of defamation, undermining him in police investigations and discipline, and corruption.

Listed in the notice are Wichita City Manager Robert Layton and City of Wichita Human Resources Director Chris Bezruki.

As part of the notice, Ramsay claims there was an inappropriate relationship between Bezruki and the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP). Connected with inappropriate text messages from WPD officers, Ramsay accuses Layton and Bezruki of covering up misconduct and lying about their knowledge of incidents involving multiple investigations.

A letter from Thompson said Ramsay joins current WPD deputy chiefs Jose Salcido and Chet Pinkston and retired WPD Deputy Chief Wanda Givens who previously submitted a settlement notice to the City of Wichita, seeing more than $2.1 million.

“They come together in a unified front as the entire command staff of the Wichita Police Department to call upon the City to take action to end the corruption, lies, and lack of transparency that harmed them and continues to harm the City of Wichita,” the letter said.

A news release from Thompson said, “this is not a ‘disgruntled employee,’ but rather a unified display by the most senior leadership of the police department, which is unprecedented for any department anywhere in the country and should itself serve as a clear sign that there are serious problems within our city government.”

The letter outlining the grounds for a lawsuit against the City of Wichita said Ramsay attempted to root out and deal with issues relating to the inappropriate text messages connected with “small pockets of corruption, sexism, homophobia, and racism operating within the Wichita Police Department and City of Wichita.”

Layton, Bezruki, the Fraternal Order of Police and others, “resisted or outright defied actions by Chief Ramsay and his executive staff to address these issues,” the letter said.

The notice of Ramsay’s intent to sue the city said Layton and Bezruki “repeatedly lied about their knowledge of incidents within this abhorrent subculture and took action to protect and/or conceal it.”

Further the notice claims Layton, Brezruki, and others, in concert with the Fraternal Order of Police, retaliated against Ramsay and his executive staff “in efforts to undermined their authority and effectiveness as leaders of the Wichita Police Department.”

The notice accuses Layton of approaching at least two police chiefs “to violate the law and obstruct a criminal/administrative investigation.” It says Layton asked Ramsay, then interim WPD Chief Lem Moore, to show favor and give a pass or a “restart” in an ongoing criminal/administrative investigation to a WPD captain (Wendell Nicholson) under investigation. The letter claims Nicholson is also believed “to be releasing confidential information about criminal cases in violation of city policy, specifically regarding the investigation into inappropriate text messages involving WPD officers.

The letter said Layton lied to the public and the Wichita City Council when he denied knowing about the investigation into inappropriate text messages involving WPD officers. Layton also is accused of pushing for a case involving an officer-involved shooting to settle because the officer involved in the case also was involved in the text message investigation.

The notice further accuses Layton of trying to force out WPD deputy chiefs Pinkston and Salcido and refusing to consider either of them for the next interim chief.

Regarding Bezruki and the Fraternal Order of Police, the letter giving notice of Ramsay’s intent to sue, makes accusations of an inappropriate relationships “where in it appears gifts including expensive dinners are being exchanged for preferential contracts and favors towards [the FOP’s] members.”

“When WPD executive staff made decisions with which the FOP disagreed, the FOP leadership ran to Bezruki, and sometimes Layton, who would overturn those decisions,” the notice said.

The notice concerning Ramsay also brings up Wichita City Councilmember Bryan Frye for comments he made in September following the demand letter issued by Thompson on behalf of Pinkston, Salcido and Givens. That letter also allege that Layton, Bezruki, the FOP and others “resisted, or outright defied, actions by the executive staff” to address disciplinary issues within the Wichita Police Department.”

Layton responded to the deputy chiefs’ demand letter, calling the allegations “outrageous.” Frye called out the two deputy chiefs and the former deputy chief.

“The definition of extortion, the practice of obtaining something, especially money, through force of threats. It’s mind blowing that two current deputy chiefs with the Wichita Police Department have resorted to this tactic,” Frye said. “Deputy Chief Jose Salcido and Chet Pinkston should resign immediately. Two deputy chiefs who know the law should not be using a threat to extort city council direction. It’s that simple.”

The notice on behalf of Ramsay calls Frye’s comments “slanderous,” and “yet another high-profile example of retaliation against executive staff for calling out corruption, retaliation and harrassment.”

“Frye’s defamatory comments violated federal, state and city law and send a very clear message to any other whistleblowers in the City of Wichita that if they dare come forward, they too will suffer the same calculated character assassination,” the letter said.

Monday, the FOP issued a statement that echoed what it said in September in response to the settlement notice from the deputy police chiefs.

“On Sept. 21, 2022, FOP Lodge 5 responded to numerous false statements and insinuations made in a letter to the Wichita City Council from attorney James Thompson. We have reviewed his letter of November 21, 2022, repeating those false allegations. They are no truer today than they were in September,” the police union said.

The notice of Ramsay’s intent to sue the City of Wichita says he “suffered adverse employment actions because of the toxic subculture within the WPD and City of Wichita.”

“A factor in Chief Ramsay’s decision to leave was Bezruki’s interference in discipline, and the continued obstruction in Ramsay’s efforts to change department culture, subverting department leadership, stirring unrest and discord within the organization and fueling a toxic culture by Bezruki, Layton and the FOP,” the letter said.

The notice of legal action includes requests from Ramsay that include a public apology from the City of Wichita and damages of $400,000, which, it says, Ramsay is asking to go toward hiring an independent investigator into ethical complaints against city leaders.

You can see the full notice, outlining each allegation in the document below.