2014-06-18 / Front Page

Fired officer loses appeal to council

By Elizabeth Billips

Chad Hulsey Chad Hulsey Waynesboro City Council has upheld the firing of a policeman accused of making false statements.

Monday night, five subpoenaed officers including a GBI agent were at City Hall for an appeal hearing requested by former patrolman Chad Hulsey.

Hulsey, however, never showed.

The 25-year-old officer was fired by Chief Augustus Palmer III in March – a month after he wrecked a patrol car into a tree at his Augusta home and failed to report it for three days.

Hulsey claimed to have slid backwards down his frozen driveway during the ice storm. He said he didn’t immediately realize the car was damaged and reported it as soon as he did.

“It wasn’t really that big of a deal at that point,” City Administrator Jerry Coalson said after the meeting.

But inconsistencies in Hulsey’s story reportedly began surfacing as the accident was investigated.

Hulsey requested a polygraph to back up his claims; but that only made things worse for him.

According to a letter written to Hulsey from City Administrator Jerry Coalson, the examiner believed the young officer was trying to “beat” the polygraph.

“The examiner noted obvious attempts to disrupt the exam – moving your head, changing breathing patterns ....,” his letter stated. “You eventually admitted that others had told you how to beat a polygraph exam.”

Hulsey denied the accusation. “If I were guilty of lying, would I have suggested a polygraph test?” he asked rhetorically in his written appeal.

Coalson later said Hulsey, who was hired in Sept. 2012, had a history of citizen complaints about his driving, including talking on his cell phone and turning a doughnut in a parking lot.

Hulsey, however, maintained he’d been wrongfully terminated.

In his official letter of appeal, he argued that he’d been the victim of the “good ole boy” system and had been punished by his superiors since June 2013 when he arrested Robert William Taylor for driving without a license.

Hulsey wrote that a superior officer ordered him to “drop the charges” and he did so because he was new to the department and “didn’t want to make waves.” He said the charges were reinstated after later conversations with Chief Palmer and the prosecuting attorney — and that’s when his own troubles with supervising officers began.

“After this incident, it seemed I was constantly being watched by supervisors for any violation of departmental policy – even if one had to be fabricated,” he wrote. “It appeared as only a matter of time before a reason was found to terminate me. This simple automobile accident during the worst ice storm in recent years … was their opportunity.”

Hulsey later asked to resign so that his POST certification would not be marred. His request was denied.

When Hulsey failed to attend Monday night’s appeal hearing, City Council upheld the firing in a 5-1 vote. The sole opposition came from councilwoman Alberta Anderson who indicated that documents on the case were not presented in time for her to read them. Had the hearing progressed, those documents would have been presented by the city attorney. Hulsey reportedly showed up about an hour after the meeting adjourned but the decision appears to be binding.

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