By Kate Kirby
In a meeting held April 17th, the Big Sandy City Council affirmed Chief Tim Scott’s decision to terminate Officer Clint Norman after hearing statements from both Mr. Norman’s Attorney and the Attorney representing Chief Scott.
In a case that has been under gag order for months with no information released to the media or public until the regular city council meeting last Tuesday, April 17, two of the three Big Sandy officers that were relieved of duty following their actions to bring charges of illegal search against Officer Gilow sought action from the council.
The former officers brought a case to the Upshur County DA against Officer Gilow claiming that he illegally searched a vehicle and lied on an affidavit regarding the search. The case was rejected by the DA and ‘no-billed’ by the Grand Jury, meaning no evidence was found to support the claims against Officer Gilow.
After the council returned from executive session, former Officer Clint Norman and his Attorney Mr. Lee appeared before the council. Mr. Lee stated that Mr. Clint Norman should not have been terminated for his actions, but rather commended. Lee stated, “Mr. Norman looked at a video tape and audio tape and reported that an officer did not have permission to search a vehicle.” He then stated that Mr. Norman asked two other fellow officers to review the tape and that they agreed that the officer in question (Officer Gilow) did not have permission to search the vehicle and thus lied on an affidavit. Lee stated that Mr. Clint Norman went to Chief Scott who “blew him off” and to a council liaison, which was Ronnie Norman, Clint’s father, and was told to put a packet together for the DA. Lee stated that Clint Norman’s obligation was to report that officer who had committed a crime, but because of that act, he was terminated and dishonorably discharged.
Mr. Clint Norman added, “When we filed that report we were trying to protect everyone.” He added, “The three officers (who were terminated) cared deeply about this city.”
In rebuttal, Attorney Davis, stated that Chief Scott outlined in a written memorandum all of the possible criminal violations, violations of ethical behavior and policies violated and that the officers were discharged appropriately. Davis claimed that it was Mr. Norman who was trying to get back at Officer Gilow for “calling him out on the carpet on work ethic” with “trumped-up allegations.”
“You don’t conduct your own investigation, your policies don’t allow you to do that,” stated. Davis. He continued to explain that in the event that there was illegal conduct by an officer, an outside agency would be called in to handle the investigation. Davis continued that Mr. Clint Norman’s actions put the city in a “bad light” and possibly could have violated the law. Davis stated that this grievance before the City Council was the 4th step in this process and that every other step has agreed that the termination should be affirmed. “The evidence mandates that you affirm, the terminations,” said Davis.
Chief Scott added that although Mr. Clint Norman said that he did nothing when the problem was brought to his attention, Chief Scott in fact called two Texas Rangers to investigate situation and that was the reason the DA ‘no-billed’ the charges against Officer Gilow.
After a return from executive session, Dr. Bauter stated that the council had carefully considered both sides of the situation and moved that the council uphold the decision of Chief Scott. Mr. Baggett seconded the motion and it passed with Mr. Saxon abstaining to vote.
After another executive session, the council agreed to a compromise agreement presented by Former Sgt. Ryan Kuhn. Dr. Bauter read part of the settlement statement aloud that confirmed that none of the council members nor the City assumed any liability by in entering into the agreement. The terms of agreement were in exchange for discontinuing litigation to save citizens money. Mr. Cochran moved to accept the compromise agreement, which was seconded by Mr. Baggett. The motion passed with Mr. Saxon abstaining. Other details of the agreement were not disclosed.
In other news, the council:
- Issued a proclamation for the month of May as Motorcycle Safety Month.
- Adopted a procedure for grievance with City Council (218-001), which was followed during the meeting with regard to Mr. Clint Norman’s grievance. The motion for adoption was made by Dr. Bauter and seconded by Mr. Baggett. Mr. Ronnie Norman voted “No” as he opposed the adoption of the resolution. The resolution passed.
- Adjusted a water bill for W. L. Baird.
- Approved a new company for the annual audit. The previous company could not perform the audit on time due to loss of two staff accountants.
- Delayed the annual GRIP Rate Adjustment for CenterPoint energy for 45 days as allowed by law.
- Adopted the resolution for the May 5th city election and joint election with BISD. Election costs will be shared with the school due.
- Discussed repairs underway with the water tank. The water department says there is a need to conserve water while those repairs are ongoing.
- Discussed that Upshur County will assist in the repair of Wimberly Drive which has continuously washed out in heavy rains due to a spring located in the middle of the road. The County plans to divert the spring water before using materials to repair the road, which will hopefully make the repairs more permanent.