Creek officials defend firing of dispatcher and alleged Taser victim

Despite allegations that surfaced in several television media reports, Cripple Creek officials are standing behind the actions of police department authorities in firing a dispatcher and a victim of an accidental Taser gun discharge.

In addition, City Administrator Ray White has adamantly denied any reports that employees aren’t permitted to talk to media outlets and that the city’s recent termination action represented some form of punishment against a whistle blower.

For the first time in several weeks, city officials publicly discussed an incident that has generated much attention in the community and been the subject of a plethora of rumors. It also occurred in the wake of naming a new CC [police chief, April Peterson, to assume the reins of the agency.

At last week’s city council meeting, White admitted that an unfortunate incident recently occurred involving the accidental discharge of a Taser gun by a police officer. This resulted in a dispatcher getting stunned, with the dispatcher receiving prongs in his right leg.

White said the officer who fired the gun received disciplinary action and was forced to undergo more training. He also was placed on probation.

The victim, identified as David Hall in a KRDO television news report, was subsequently fired. The circumstances surrounding this action, though, are unclear.

In an interview aired on KRDO, Hall maintained he was terminated because of a conversation he had with the television station. “I am the victim. I can tell anyone and say anything I want to,” said Hall, in the report aired on KRDO. Hall also maintained that he was unfairly grilled by police authorities and wasn’t asked about the injuries he suffered.

Some residents have come to Hall’s support and classify this as an example of an agency that needs more scrutiny and that punishes whistle-blowers. But supporters of the police department say rules have to be followed and question if the employee is trying to sue the city.

At the outset of last week’s council meeting, White referred to claims regarding a ban against employees talking to the media as bogus. “The city doesn’t have a policy prohibiting employees from talking to the media,” said White.

Instead, the city administrator suggested that Hall, who was a probationary employee, was dismissed because he didn’t cooperate with officials. White said the termination action had nothing to do with the employee’s conversation with KRDO. “During the investigation, the employee violated several of our policies,” said White.

The administrator noted that the employee did not comply with the guidelines of his probationary period. In later media interviews, White also indicated that previous problems have occurred with the dispatcher, but didn’t elaborate.

The council appeared satisfied with the administrator’s explanation and didn’t press the issue. Also, despite a large crowd who attended last week’s meeting, the recent incident didn’t generate any public comment.

Due to the fact that Hall was a probationary employee, he can’t appeal the decision. However, some government observers believe the case will be headed to court.