Lawsuit filed by alleged false DUI victims of Steed

Posted at 8:31 PM, Dec 14, 2012
and last updated 2012-12-14 23:17:45-05

MURRAY, Utah - A class-action lawsuit has been filed against the state of Utah and Utah Highway Patrol on behalf of people who say they were wrongfully accused of DUIs by former UHP Trooper Lisa Steed, who was fired last month.

Documents filed with the Third District Judicial Court on Friday say that there could be hundreds of people who faced wrongful DUI charges and arrests from Steed.

An attorney filing the suit says some citizens pleaded guilty to Steed's DUI charges in court because they couldn't afford to defend themselves. He believes the state owes those victims money for damages including impounded property and lost jobs.

"That night when I got pulled over, lost my truck, lost everything I have, my motor home, everything. That hurts," said Thomas Romero, one of Steed's alleged victims.

Romero was pulled over by Steed because of a burnt out light bulb above his license plate, but when she suspected he was drunk, he went to jail. A blood alcohol test later revealed that his BAC was zero, but he couldn't afford to get his truck out of impound.

Julie Tapia, another alleged victim, shared a similar story.

"She never did give me a sobriety test on the spot even though I asked for it, because I'm like, I haven't done anything wrong unless I'm drunk on a hamburger, fries and a milkshake. I don't even drink," Tapia said.

Attorney Robert Sykes says Thomas and Julie's stories are common of those pulled over by Steed, who was once named UHP Trooper of the Year, partly for her high number of arrests.

Sykes says attorneys involved in the suit hope to go through all of Steed's arrest records to try and uncover more discrepancies in her police reports.

Steed was fired from her job in November. She filed an appeal with the state personnel office on Friday in hopes of regaining her employment.

When contacted for comment, the Utah Highway Patrol says they haven't had a chance to look at court documents yet.