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UGA Officer Exonerated in Alcohol Amnesty Lawsuit

Jay Park.

A former UGA police officer who claimed he was fired for obeying an alcohol amnesty law has reached a $325,000 settlement with the Board of Regents.

UGA Police Chief Jimmy Williamson fired Jay Park last September after Park refused to arrest underage drinkers because they sought medical treatment for alcohol poisoning. Williamson said that Park was fired for insubordination.

The settlement in the wrongful-termination lawsuit was reached in mediation on Tuesday, several media outlets reported. As part of the settlement, UGA police officials and the Board of Regents will ask the Georgia Peace Officers Standards and Training Council to reinstate Park’s certification, which had been suspended, so he can work again as a law enforcement officer.

The amnesty law, passed in 2014, prohibits police from arresting anyone who seeks medical attention for someone who’s overdosed on alcohol. It’s intended to allay students’ fears that they might be arrested for underage drinking if they call for help.

UPDATE: UGA released this statement on the settlement:

Mr. Puglise’s statements to the media prior to the settlement being finalized are premature, inappropriate and incorrect.  The University agreed in principle to resolve this case to avoid the distraction, uncertainty, and significant expense of litigation. While the settlement agreement has not been finalized, any settlement of this case will explicitly state that there is no admission of wrongdoing by the University.