Former deputy sues King County over 2016 arrest after email threatens neighbor’s dog

Matthew Tighe contends that the King County Sheriff’s Office conducted an unconstitutional “sting” operation on him and his family in August 2016 as an act of retaliation by Sheriff John Urquhart.

A former sheriff’s deputy is suing King County and two sheriff’s investigators, claiming they violated his rights by falsely arresting him and improperly searching his home last year after his wife allegedly sent an email threatening a neighbor’s dog.

Matthew Tighe contends in his lawsuit that the sheriff’s office conducted an unconstitutional “sting” operation on him and his family in August 2016 as an act of retaliation by Sheriff John Urquhart, whom the suit alleges targeted Tighe because he took issue with the department’s mishandling of his return to work from military leave.

“(D) espite the lack of probable cause … the KCSO internal-affairs unit wrote their own search warrants to invade (Tighe) and his family’s home to hold the Tighe family under house arrest as if a very serious felony had been committed or was about to occur,” the suit contends.

Investigators initially believed Tighe had sent the email, but he was cleared of wrongdoing. His wife eventually was charged with misdemeanor cyberstalking, but only months after the episode effectively “ruined Tighe’s reputation and his strong and promising career,” the suit alleges.

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Tighe’s lawsuit, filed Wednesday in King County Superior Court, names as defendants the county and sheriff’s Sgt. Scott Garnett and Detective Sarah Gerlitz, who were the case’s primary investigators. Urquhart is not a named defendant, but the suit alleges the sheriff has established a “totalitarian regime” bent on retaliating against deputies who challenge his authority.

The suit seeks unspecified damages based on employment discrimination and alleged violations of Tighe’s re-employment and…

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