TheTimesTribune.com, Corbin, KY

Local News

January 16, 2014

Harrell discusses firing of deputy

‘We did this in order to maintain the integrity of the Whitley County Sheriff’s Department.’

CORBIN — By John L. Ross / Staff Writer

The next step is to move forward.

That’s the feeling of Whitley County Sheriff Colan Harrell after the firing of Deputy Shawn Jackson Jan. 10.

Jackson’s termination came “immediately” after an internal affairs investigation revealed the former deputy allegedly failed to respond to three different 911 Dispatch calls concerning a reported domestic violence complaint.

Through an open records request, the Times-Tribune has the recorded termination interview — and Jackson was made aware by Chief Deputy Kenny “KY” Fuson of the reason for being fired during that interview.

It was also learned through that 53-minute recorded interview that Jackson was afforded the opportunity to resign.

“I’ve made that mistake before,” Jackson said.

Both Fuson and Jackson expressed there were “no hard feelings,” and that “they hate it.”

“We do have an obligation to show up for a domestic,” Fuson said to Jackson. “We have an obligation to show up for a violent call.”

“I agree,” Jackson replied. “I’m not disputing that in the least bit.”

Harrell said he made the decision without politics in mind — both Harrell and Jackson have filed to campaign for county offices. Harrell filed to run as the incumbent sheriff, while Jackson continues to campaign for the Whitley County Jailer’s seat.

“We did this in order to maintain the integrity of the Whitley County Sheriff’s Department,” Harrell said. “We want to carry ourselves in a professional manner.”

He felt the actions discovered through the internal affairs report could have ended with more tragic results.

“We will not tolerate this kind of action within the sheriff’s office,” Harrell said.

Through an additional open records request to the WCSD, the Times-Tribune obtained several documents relating to Jackson’s termination, including the investigation report written by Sgt. Tim Baker and a response from Deputy Kirk Mays, as well as audio recordings of the 911 calls from the alleged victims.

Baker’s report indicates he was assigned on Jan. 8 by Harrell to do an internal affairs investigation concerning an anonymous complaint.

The individual complaining, according to the WCSD report, had overheard Sgt. Steve Lundy with the Whitley County Detention Center alleging Jackson failed to respond to a domestic violence complaint.

According to the report, there were three separate calls made to the 911 Dispatch center on Dec. 29 — and all three concerned alleged domestic violence involving a Doolin Branch Road couple and a female friend.

The Times-Tribune also has obtained the WCSD interviews with the three persons involved in the alleged domestic violence situation, but has elected not to release those names at this time as charges are not likely to be filed.

Jackson was the deputy dispatched to investigate the complaint, and did have contact with one of the alleged victims, according to the report. However, the report also indicates that while dispatchers informed Jackson of the progression of the calls, he never actually went to the residence to investigate the complaint.

Mays came on duty for the next shift, and the alleged domestic violence situation was still ongoing.

The report states he learned that the male subject involved in the domestic violence issue was possibly intoxicated and driving on the road. Mays felt that would likely stop any possible domestic violence, and went to assist Jackson in locating that suspect.

Later during Mays’ shift, he was assigned to carry an Emergency Protection Order on one of the females involved in the earlier domestic violence case — and found the female had been beaten up, was complaining of chest pains and may have had broken bones, according to the report.

Mays contacted Whitley EMS and she was transported for treatment.

“(The sheriff) had to do what he did from a business standpoint — that’s his decision,” said Jackson on Tuesday. “It is very unusual this close to campaign season — but we have got to eventually work together as a team.”

He added he had no hard feelings — regardless of past differences.

“Sometimes people need to agree to disagree,” Jackson said.

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