‘Not something we are going to tolerate’: Sedgwick County deputies fired, resign, suspended

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Two Sedgwick County deputies have been fired, one facing termination has resigned, and a supervisor has been suspended after the department investigated a complaint about two deputies drawing loaded firearms on one another and other officers.

The Feb. 24 investigation was expanded after two Hispanic deputies, including one involved in drawing their firearm, reported racist comments and possible discrimination, according to Colonel Brian White.

The investigation, which included interviews with 32 deputies, found that racist comments had been made.

A sergeant who made a racial comment was suspended. And a deputy who made a racial comment and faced termination for that and other incidents resigned.

Lying during the investigation or on a report led to the loss of jobs for the two deputies who drew guns and to the resignation of the deputy who made inappropriate comments, White said.

Lying raises major concerns about an officer’s credibility and ability to testify in a court case. It’s also automatically a firing offense under the sheriff’s office policy.

“The fact of the matter is that we had a deputy who had tried to speak to them about their action, they continued to do it and he felt he needed to bring it to a supervisor’s attention, because he truly felt someone was going to get hurt. And that’s not something we are going to tolerate, jokingly, whatever they were doing, pointing guns at each other … should never be done,” Sheriff Jeff Easter said this week.

He said the racial comments “were very inappropriate.”

Easter would not identify the people involved.

The two deputies involved in the firearm complaint both appealed their early August termination. One didn’t show up for a hearing Wednesday and the other hearing is still pending.

Racist comments

A sergeant was suspended for two days at the end of May for two incidents of conduct unbecoming.

The investigation found the sergeant said something along the lines of “This is America, speak English,” to a Hispanic deputy who he thought was talking about him in Spanish. The sergeant, who has been with the department about 15 years, said he didn’t remember making the comment, White said.

A Hispanic deputy who was fired said the comment didn’t offend him; another Hispanic deputy said they were offended, White said.

“We still found it to be inappropriate,” he said.

Additionally, the investigation found the sergeant said something like “grrrr” to a female deputy, which could have been interpreted in a sexual way, White said.

“The sergeant admitted (he) shouldn’t have said that,” White said.

A deputy who had been with the department about five years “resigned in lieu of termination,” Easter said. She resigned in mid-July.

She said something along the lines of ‘the Mexicans are leaving”’ when Hispanic deputies left a crime scene on Aug. 23, 2022, White said.

The investigation also found that she had cursed and made inappropriate comments to an employee about someone else, White said.

Her past incidents were factors in the department deciding to terminate her. But she also made up a 911 call to avoid going to another call, and that guaranteed her actions rose to termination, White said.

During the investigation, he said, it was reported that she had entered a false call into the computer-aided dispatch system to avoid going to another call. She admitted to doing it one time, he said.

White said the county’s human resources was also involved in the investigation. As a result of what happened, Easter said, all supervisors were given sexual harassment training and the entire department underwent diversity, equity and inclusion training.

Drawing their firearms

The two deputies who were fired for drawing their firearms both said it happened one time between one and a half and two years ago and that they pointed toward each other, White said.

“The witnesses that we have contradict that,” he said.

He said that it happened at least three times with one deputy and then four with another. He said the incidents happened outside the station or in the parking lot and involved the deputies pointing their loaded firearms at each other and other officers.

The deputies had been with the department for about three and five years.

The pending case for the deputy isn’t likely to be overturned.

Easter said the board, made up of people appointed by Sedgwick County commissioners, has overturned his department’s decision only one time. It happened early in his 11-year tenure as sheriff after a detective lied about information to a Sedgwick County District Attorney’s Office attorney.

The sheriff’s office terminated the detective, but the board overturned the termination and reinstated the officer. Easter said the detective no longer works for the sheriff’s office.

All four of the deputies involved worked the same shift.

Officers’ credibility in court

As required by federal law, the sheriff’s office reported the incidents to the DA’s office.

The DA’s office must keep what’s called a Brady-Giglio list of officers who have policy violations that could call into question their credibility as a witness in a trial.

Defense attorneys were notified in any cases where the deputies caught lying were endorsed witnesses, DA Marc Bennett said. This allows the defense to determine if officers’ bias or dishonesty factor into a person being prosecuted.

No cases have had to be dismissed, Bennett said.

As for the sergeant’s comment, Bennett said that the sheriff’s office did an extensive investigation and “no additional evidence of racial/ethnic bias was uncovered.”

Bennett said context and frequency would be factors in whether that would be a Brady-Giglio violation, and in this case it was not.

White said they’ve had investigations past where it was clear the racism or racial comments were an ongoing behavior.

“This did not rise to that level,” he said.

EMEA Tribune is not involved in this news article, it is taken from our partners and or from the News Agencies. Copyright and Credit go to the News Agencies, email [email protected]

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