A former Myrtle Beach police officer alleges he was fired from his job because he had filed a worker’s compensation claim after being injured on the job.
Michael Dodd has filed a lawsuit against the city of Myrtle Beach alleging he was wrongfully terminated from his job with the Myrtle Beach Police Department.
Dodd was hired as a patrolman with the department September 2016, according to the lawsuit. A Facebook post by the Myrtle Beach Police Department shows Dodd taking his oath of office in February 2017.
About a year and a half into the job, Dodd was promoted and received a raise based on his performance, according to the lawsuit filing.
In October 2018, Dodd had back surgery. About two months after surgery, Dodd got into a fight with a suspect and was injured while on the job. The fight was filed as a use-of-force incident by the police department, according to the lawsuit.
As a result of his injury, Dodd could not work for more than five months and filed a worker’s compensation claim, the lawsuit said.
His employer “refused to assist (Dodd) in any way and brushed his injury and incident under the rug,” according to the lawsuit, which was filed in Horry County court last week.
Spokespersons for the city of Myrtle Beach and the police department said they do not comment on pending litigation.
A little over a year later Dodd was involved in a scuffle with a co-worker.
In March 2020, while gathered in the annex building of the Myrtle Beach Police Department for a shift meeting, Dodd jokingly passed an NYPD training booklet to a colleague, “as if to say ‘go back to training,’” the lawsuit said. The second officer grabbed the training booklet and threw it at Dodd, hitting him in the face. Dodd responded by pushing the other officer, who fell onto a table.
The incident lasted about 10 seconds and ended when the officers were broken apart by two other officers, according to the lawsuit. The other officer was not injured.
Dodd worked with “a tight knit group of men who enjoyed joking around with each other” throughout their 12-hour night patrol shifts, the lawsuit said.
That day, the other officer explained that he had not meant to hit Dodd in the face and was aiming for his chest “but did not mean it aggressively.” The two resolved the issue and worked the rest of their shift together that night without any issues, the lawsuit said.
Dodd was placed on administrative duty while the police department conducted an internal investigation into the incident.
During the course of the investigation, officers that worked with Dodd, including the officer involved in the incident, said they looked to Dodd as a leader on the shift and saw the scuffle as an isolated incident, according to the lawsuit. Dodd’s body camera footage was reviewed and he was told by a higher-up that he was praised for his handling of use-of-force situations and talking people down, according to the lawsuit.
The investigation concluded that Dodd should be suspended for the incident. The other officer was not disciplined.
Dodd was terminated in April 2020, according to the lawsuit. Dodd accuses the police department opted to fire him rather than suspend him because he had filed a worker’s compensation claim.
It took Dodd more than seven months to find another job, and one with significantly less income, the lawsuit said.
Dodd is asking for an undisclosed amount of money in the lawsuit “in the amount of his lost wages and benefits, and future lost wages and benefits.”