Park City police critic files lawsuit stemming from confrontation with officers
Michael Franchek, unsuccessful City Council candidate, and son seek more than $1 million
A Park City man who unsuccessfully sought a Park City Council seat in the City Hall election filed a federal lawsuit on Monday against the municipal government and four members of the Park City Police Department stemming from a 2019 confrontation that influenced part of his campaign platform.
Michael Franchek and his minor child filed the case in United States District Court and seek a little more than $1.1 million and the unsealing of certain records related to one of the officers named in the lawsuit. The case claims civil rights violations. Franchek also wants an apology, public and in writing, from the police and the wider municipal government.
The lawsuit says Franchek suffered minor bruising in the confrontation and continues to experience post-traumatic stress disorder. The child received minor wounds and also experiences post-traumatic stress disorder, the lawsuit says, indicating the minor is “terrified at the (sight) of Police Officers and fears for his safety.”
The case provides an outline from the Franchek perspective of the Sept. 29, 2019, confrontation, which occurred at his residence on Spaulding Court. The filing says the police were initially called regarding to an argument involving neighbors.
The lawsuit claims the interaction quickly intensified with one of the officers becoming “visibly enraged” and screaming for Franchek to leave his residence. Franchek “in fear for his safety exercised his right to remain in his home and shut the door to his home,” the lawsuit says. Two officers “effected forced entry into the Franchek residence breaking the door and causing damage to the wall of the residence,” the case says. The officers wanted to learn the location of a gun, but Franchek told them there was none, the filing says.
One of the officers “proceeded to assault and batter Michael Franchek while trying to make an unlawful arrest after executing a warrantless entry. At no time did Michael Franchek threaten, resist or intimidate the two armed officers,” the lawsuit claims. The lawsuit says Franchek was locked “in a hot car with no AC, after having been tased- potentially causing death.”
The case also involves claims about the police attempting to block the child from video recording the arrest of Franchek.
A video of the confrontation was circulated online, capturing attention in the time before Franchek, who considers himself to be a government watchdog, launched a campaign for the City Council earlier in 2021. Voters dropped him in a primary in which he garnered little support. The confrontation was an element of his platform as he sought police reform. He had been a critic of the Police Department prior to the filing of the lawsuit.
City Hall midday on Tuesday indicated it had not been served with the lawsuit and declined to comment.
Franchek in an interview said he wants the lawsuit to lead to “significant reforms in training and hiring” in the Police Department. He said there are “excellent” and “poor” officers in the agency.
“There are significant issues in quality of service and violations” of rights that he wants addressed, Franchek said.
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The Park City Police Department is investigating a case involving the shooting of a person in Old Town with a weapon that fires some sort of projectile. The victim did not report injuries to the police, but the incident is highly unusual for Park City.