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Local man sues Stampede, security firm

Frank Lay alleges officers assaulted him and violated his civil rights

— An Omak man is seeking unspecified damages from Phoenix Protective Corp. and the Omak Stampede while alleging he was roughed up and his civil rights were violated after last year’s Saturday night rodeo.

Frank Lay filed suit in Okanogan County Superior Court against Phoenix, the rodeo and five unnamed employees of Phoenix. Through East Wenatchee attorney Lacy Kane, he alleged assault, battery, false imprisonment, violation of civil rights and negligence.

Stampede contracted with Phoenix to provide security during the Aug. 8-11, 2013, rodeo in Omak’s East Side Park.

Stampede President George Dunckel declined to comment.

The city of Omak, which owns East Side Park and the Stampede Arena, was served a summons in the case but was not named. Mayor Cindy Gagne said the matter has been turned over to the city’s legal staff.

City Administrator Ralph Malone told the City Council last Monday the matter has been forwarded to the city’s insurance company and, in contacting the attorney of record, it was determined the city was named in error on the summons and is not involved.

In the filing, Lay said he attended the Saturday night rodeo and then joined other rodeo fans in the arena beer garden.

After midnight, a heavy downpour occurred during a thunderstorm and many people sought shelter under an awning outside a locked arena gate.

The five Phoenix employees “approached Lay and the others and angrily told them to leave. Given the severe rain and lightning, Lay responded that he was going to wait out the storm,” the court document said.

Lay’s filing alleges the employees “became physically aggressive, with one referring to Lay and saying, ‘Get the old guy with the cap.’”

His daughter’s boyfriend, Jerame Paul, tried to protect Lay, but was wrestled to the ground and his face pushed into a mud puddle, the filing said.

The employees, who were carrying hand guns and Tasers, attempted to wrestle Lay to the ground, but he managed to keep his feet, the filing said.

Lay and Paul were then handcuffed and taken to the Phoenix security tent, where they were held and questioned for one to one and a half hours.

Lay’s filing said he suffered personal injuries as a result of the employees’ conduct.

He and Paul were accused by the employees of assault and trespassing, but no charges were filed.

Lay’s suit alleges the five employees’ conduct constituted assault, battery and false imprisonment, and that Phoenix and Stampede “are vicariously liable for the conduct” of the employees.

In addition, the five deprived him of his civil rights under the U.S. Constitution and federal law, the filing alleges.

Lay asserts that Phoenix and Stampede each had a duty to supervise and train security officers to prevent harm to him, and that they breached that duty.

He is seeking damages in an amount to be proven at trial. Lay’s suit said he suffered economic losses and actual damages.

In addition to Lay and Paul, former Stampede Queen Shauna Beeman also complained to Stampede officials about allegedly heavy-handed tactics by Phoenix personnel that weekend.

Beeman, a former volunteer and Stampede board member, said she was escorted from the grounds toward the end of the Sunday rodeo by Phoenix personnel, who claimed she’d been issued a “no-trespassing” letter requiring her to stay off the grounds.

In a reply to The Chronicle for comment after the rodeo, Phoenix said the allegations were off base.

Company President Sheila Leslie alleged the complaints came from people who were drinking in the beer gardens and were under the influence of alcohol.

She said people need to consider the liability to the Stampede board and the risk to the public from individuals who refuse to follow directives, are intoxicated and otherwise disruptive.

“They do not have a ‘right to be drunk’ or, in an evacuation, to refuse to leave,” she said.

Malone, also a member of Okanogan-Omak Rotary Club, said there also were problems Friday in the beer garden that led to misunderstanding about when Phoenix personnel expected the club to close up shop.

Rotary contracts with Stampede to operate the beer garden.

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