City releases internal report on city manager gun shot

Former Keizer city manager Chris Eppley

An internal investigation report into the discharge of a firearm by the former city manager was made public Friday, May 7.

Read the internal investigation report below.

Here are some of the key findings of the 248-page report:

• Eppley carried full firearms – loaded and unloaded – into the civic center on numerous occasions, but it is not clear how many of the instances overlapped between separate witnesses. In an incident report, Eppley stated he had never brought a complete firearm into city hall before and that he was “preoccupied” on March 4. The city has policies prohibiting firearms in the civic center aside from police officers.

• Eppley admitted to minimizing details, misleading fellow city employees and being “untruthful” in an incident report he filed after discharging the gun in his office.

• Keizer Police Department Chief John Teague said Eppley had shown him weapons on two occasions while in Eppley’s office.

• A former KPD lieutenant, Lance Inman, told an investigator that Eppley had shown him firearms in Eppley’s office on up to three additional occasions. He said Eppley produced the weapons from his desk and that they appeared “fully assembled and operable.”

• Inman said that Eppley had come into the Keizer Police Department and shown him and former deputy chief Jeff Kuhns one of his weapons. Inman said he and Kuhns both expressed “safety concerns regarding Eppley’s handling of firearms.”

• After Inman’s interview with the investigator, Inman said he contacted Eppley via text message and encouraged him to tell the truth.

• Shortly before receiving the text message from Inman, Eppley called the investigator to revise an answer regarding skirting city policies. Eppley said, “I think I probably was.” He also said he might have brought weapons into the civic center “five or six” time rather than the “three or four” he admitted to in his first interview.

• Kuhns told the investigator that he could recall Eppley with a firearm on three separate occasions. On one occasions, Eppley produced a gun from a bag in his office and, when Eppley handed the gun to either Kuhns or Inman, they pulled the slide of the gun and discovered a round in the chamber. On another occasion when Eppley displayed a gun in his office, there were no rounds in the chamber.

• Eppley told the investigator that while talking to Kuhns and Inman he “probably would have said, hey, don’t tell HR, I’m violating policy right now.” When the investigator asked how making such a statement would bode for a city manager, Eppley said, “My decision making around this has been poor … so not very well.”

• Eppley admitted to showing a to Lt. Trevor Wenning. Wenning believed it was a Beretta semi-automatic pistol and said the incident occurred during a work day a few months prior to the negligent discharge in March.

• Eppley recalled showing a firearm to Sgt. Rodney Bamford of the Keizer Police Department on one occasion.

• Eppley said that he had come into the building on weekends without disarming himself. Eppley holds a concealed carry license.

• Eppley had components of his weapons delivered to the Keizer Civic Center, but “usually they’re small pieces.”

• Eppley told investigators he had done no safety checks on the gun prior to brining it into his office. He disposed of the bullet after the incident. He later admitted that the bullet and the spent cartridge could have had some significance in the investigation and that disposing of them in his office waste can was inappropriate.

• City officials waited 13 days, until March 18, to contact Oregon State Police and ask for an investigation into the incident and help determine whether a crime had been committed.

• On March 29, OSP released a report asserting no crime had been committed. Eppley’s conducted was “careless” but not “reckless,” according to the report.

• Eppley told an OSP officer who was investigating the incident that he had not previously carried a gun into the office.

• After hearing the gunshot from his office City Attorney Shannon Johnson went to Eppley’s office and saw Eppley saying something to the effect of, “It’s okay.” Johnson did not ask any questions and, instead returned to his office.

• Sometime thereafter, Eppley went to Johnson’s office and asked what he should do.

• Later, Eppley told Johnson, “He never brings an assembled gun into City Hall. I don’t know what I was thinking.”

• Tammie Harms, who shares an office wall with Eppley, told the investigator she did not think about the potential of her own harm until after returning home.

• In the days after the incident, Eppley told another employee that, “You know, sometimes people do stupid s**t.”

• Eppley told another employee that there had been a lot going on and he was late for a Zoom.

• More than 24 hours after the incident, the Keizer Police Department had not been notified of the gun discharge. A statement from Keizer’s pro tem city manager attached to the report states that notifying the Keizer Police Department would have been “a conflict of interest.”

• Keizer police only discovered the incident occurred because of inquiries from the Keizertimes.

• Police Chief John Teague after inquiring about the incident told Eppley that it didn’t appear a crime had been committed because there was no one in the proximity of the desk when the shot was fired.

• The model of gun fired in the civic center office was a Walther PPQ M2, Eppley told an investigator it was, “Pretty much my gun that I don’t know that well.”

• There may have been additional rounds in the gun, but Eppley said he did not know how many.

The investigation completed by Ferraris Investigations and Consulting was completed in late March at a cost of nearly $8,000 to taxpayers. It was withheld from the public despite numerous requests from the Keizertimes. The newspaper was preparing to appeal the matter in Marion County Circuit Court when the Keizer City Council voted to make the report public.

Eppley has been hired by Marion County since offering his resignation in early April. He was appointed to lead wildfire recovery efforts in Detroit as its city manager.