Attorney releases new video, claims former UHP trooper wrongfully arrested drivers for DUI

Posted at 9:27 PM, Nov 20, 2013
and last updated 2013-11-20 23:27:51-05

DAVIS COUNTY, Utah -- An attorney pushing for a class action lawsuit against the state of Utah said he just got new video of former Utah Highway Patrol trooper Lisa Steed, which he said shows her repeated violations of protocol and that her superiors knew about it.

In 2007, Steed was awarded trooper of the year because of her number of DUI arrests. She netted 750 cases during her five years at the Utah Highway Patrol before being let go in January of this year after allegations surfaced that Steed wrongfully arrested drivers.

Robert Sykes, the attorney taking on the class action lawsuit against the state, also released the memo, which reveals her superiors' concerns.

"She's a predator,” said Sykes, who stands to make millions if more defendants join and he wins. “She preyed on the innocent. She used illegal techniques to make stops. It's going to be in the range of probably 20 to 30 million dollars."

So far, only two people have joined the suit, Thomas Romero and Julie Tapia. In one of the cases, defendant Tapia tells Steed she had not been drinking. Still, Ms. Tapia was arrested, according to documents and after blood work showed no presence of alcohol or drugs, she was let go.

New video released to FOX 13 News shows former UHP Trooper Steed making a traffic stop. Sykes claims the man seen in the footage, who was asked to take a field sobriety test, was not impaired. However, he was arrested for DUI.

So far, Sykes' legal team has reviewed 25 tapes of Steed's DUI arrests. He claims most of them are done either partially, or entirely off-camera.

"I have no doubt that as we continue going through these videos, we'll find more," he said.

Even more alarming, according to him, is the "Nixon Memo", a letter from Sgt. Rob Nixon telling his superior that after reviewing some of Steeds' DUI cases, he was concerned.

"This issue needs to be addressed before defense attorneys catch on and her credibility is compromised," the letter said in part.

"It's an outrage that the state of Utah would do that, the highway patrol covered up key evidence here, and that's another part of our class action lawsuit," Sykes said.

So what does the state of Utah have to say about all this? Paul Murphy, the Utah Attorney General's spokesperson said, "We think the lawsuit is completely without merit and highly doubt it will ever be certified as a class action lawsuit."

The state is correct; the lawsuit still has to be certified as a class action. It will be up to a Davis County District judge to decide. The ruling is expected in the next two to three months.