Board stands by decision to fire officer for alleged Obama threats

Posted at 7:14 PM, Nov 16, 2012
and last updated 2012-11-16 19:14:39-05

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) - One of the two Richmond police officers forced to turn in his badge after allegations of threatening remarks about the president and first lady surfaced will remain off the job.

CBS 6 News broke the story last May, after a whistleblower came forward accusing the officers of making threatening and disparaging comments. 

After an investigation, both officers were fired.

In September, James Towey, the officers' attorney, sent a letter to the city's human resources department saying that the allegations were false and asked for an open grievance hearing.

Towey said neither the police or city officials have told those officers why they were fired in the first place.

Wednesday, one of the officers went before the city's 10 member personnel board behind closed doors. [EXCLUSIVE: Source says RPD cops made ‘inappropriate comments’ about Obama, first lady]

According to his attorney, the city didn't give the officer his job because he refused to take a lie detector test if the accuser wasn't taking one, too.

"If you're a cop, you can be forced to take a polygraph. But it is interesting he was terminated for refusal to take a polygraph as opposed to finding that he made the statement that he was alleged to make,” Craig Curwood, an employment attorney, said.

Craig Curwood, who has defended police officers for more than a decade but is not involved in this case, believes the city may have been looking for some way to terminate those officers.

"I think it's a very harsh result to end up in a termination when it was not conclusive that they made the statements,” said Curwood.

And Curwood said the whistleblower shouldn't face any repercussions as long as he was reporting what he honestly say he heard.

Towey said the whistleblower was called to testify in the hearing, but that they refused to answer any questions because they are involved in the same investigation.

Richmond police spokesperson Gene Lepley said the department has nothing to say about the ruling.

Additionally, CBS 6 News had learned that the officers will be eligible to get their retirement benefits.

Stay with CBS 6 News and for the latest updates on this story.