Stefanie Cope

Staff Writer

An investigation into the alleged violation of a local woman’s Fourth Amendment rights has come to a halt and the American Civil Liberties Union is considering a lawsuit.

The Fourth Amendment protects citizens against illegal search and seizure.

Doug Bonney, chief counsel and legal director of the Kansas and Western Missouri ACLU, said the city attorney hasn’t been answering his calls or letters.

“It is ridiculous that the city attorney isn’t answering our calls.” Bonney said

He also said if the city attorney continues to choose not to answer he will file a complaint which states he has the authority to file and will file a lawsuit. Bonney said he is unsure of when they will be able to move forward with the case.

The investigation started in December of 2010 with a search the ACLU says was illegal.

Nancy Wemhoener, Columbus, said she came home to find Columbus Police Officer Andrew Estrada, in the front hallway of her home on Dec. 16, 2010.

Wemhoener said she then asked Estrada what he was doing in her home. Wemhoener said Estrada then questioned her, asking about where her son was and then asked to speak to her landlord. Estrada allegedly did not have a search warrant for the house but had a bench warrant for one Jason Adams who has an outstanding warrant for failure to pay child support. Wemhoener and her son have lived in the house for more than two years.

After the incident Wemhoener went to speak with the mayor, police chief, and city administrator. The case was referred to City Attorney Robert Meyers.

She also made a complaint to the Kansas Commission on Peace Officers Standards and Training (KS-CPOST).

Steve Culp, executive director of KS-CPOST, said the investigation is in the early stages so he can not comment at this time. He said the investigation has reached their offices and they do take these matters very seriously.

“We’re collecting information to see if this warrants a full investigation,” Culp said.

KS-CPOST is the organization which certifies law enforcement officers in Kansas and has the power to decertify officers. Should KS-CPOST opt to decertify Estrada he would not be able to continue as a police officer in Kansas.

Repeated attempts to reach City Attorney Robert Myers on this matter were unsuccessful.

Attempts to reach Mayor Marie Nepple, who is being treated for a broken hand suffered in a fall earlier this week, were likewise unsuccessful.