In a ruling released Thursday, the Utah State Court of Appeals sided with the Taylorsville Police Department’s decision to fire a police officer in December 2010 for lying during an investigation into other alleged misdeeds.
Taylorsville city and its police department brought the case to the appeals court after the Taylorsville City Employee Appeal Board reinstated former officer Brad Gillespie in April 2011.
Gillespie was fired by the police department after an internal affairs investigation in 2010. During one incident in the fall of 2010, Gillespie “briefly” showed other officer a photograph of an oral sex act on his personal phone while he was off-duty, but volunteering for canine training, according to the Court of Appeals ruling.
In another incident in November 2010, Gillespie was off duty and intoxicated at his home, according to the ruling. According to one Taylorsville officer, Gillespie was very drunk and jumped up on the hood of another officer’s police car and dented it.
During an interview with an internal investigator, Gillespie dishonestly answered some of the questions during the interview, including denying that he had shown a pornographic image on his phone and denying that he had been intoxicated during the November 2010 incident, according to the ruling.
The city said the behaviors merited discipline, but based Gillespie’s firing on findings that he lied and gave evasive answers about the photo during an investigation.
In April 2011, the employee appeal board reinstated Gillespie, saying his due process rights were violated because he was not notified in advance that he would be questioned about the photo. The board also found that there was not sufficient evidence that Gillespie had damaged the police vehicle, and because the conduct did not involve Gillespie’s duties as a police officer, terminating him for dishonesty regarding that incident was not merited.
Gillespie was reinstated as a bailiff within the city after the 2011 decision.
On Thursday, the Utah Court of Appeals ruled that the employee appeal board “exceed[ed] its discretion when it adopted its own standard of review under which it concluded that Gillespie was not afforded sufficient notice.”
Judge Carolyn McHugh, who authored the opinion, also wrote that it was troubling that the employee appeal board did not consider the police chief’s concern that Gillespie would not be a credible witness in future criminal trials because of his dishonesty during the internal investigation interview.
In a separate action, Gillespie sued the city in July 2011, hoping to be reinstated as a police officer. That case was dismissed by a 3rd District Court judge in November 2011.
Aimee Newton, spokeswoman for Taylorsville city, said Thursday that the city’s attorneys were still reviewing the decision. She couldn’t comment on how the decision will affect Gillespie’s current job as a code enforcement officer with the city.
The Taylorsville police department was disbanded in July 2012 when the Unified Police Department took over law enforcement for the city.