City officials attempt to head off questions

In addition to releasing the report from an internal investigation that stemmed from the former Keizer city manager discharging a gun in his office, the city provided its own list of questions and answers to accompany the document.

Keizertimes is reprinting that portion of the document entirely with one editor’s clarification.

It reads as follows:

1) Why wasn’t the City Manager immediately fired after the discharge of the firearm?

Like other employees of the City, the City Manager has constitutional due process rights that provide for an incident to be investigated and the employee the opportunity to respond to any investigation findings and contemplate action.

2) Would other employees be fired immediately If they discharged a firearm on city property?

No, they too would have constitutional due process rights that would provide for an investigation and an opportunity to respond to any investigation findings.

(Editor’s clarification: Previously, the Keizertimes specifically asked how the city manager’s right to respond to the charges was short-circuited by anything that has happened since. The paper was told Chris Eppley’s rights to a reputation were what was violated and any additional explanation is protected by attorney-client privilege.)

3) Why wasn’t the city manager immediately placed on administrative leave?

Even though the city manager discharged a firearm, he was not perceived to be a safety risk following the incident and this was not a situation where the city had concerns about his retaliating against employees or using his presence on the job to interfere with the investigation.

4) Why wasn’t 911 called after the incident?

911 was not immediately called because the incident did not result in an injury and there did not appear to have been a crime committed that would require immediate police attention. OSP subsequently conducted an investigation at the city’s request.

5) Why didn’t the Keizer Police Department investigate the incident?

Because the incident involved an employee of the City of Keizer, the Keizer Police Department was not involved as it would have been a conflict of interest.

6) A number of potential criminal violations have been cited. Did this event constitute a crime?

The investigation into potential criminal charges was handled by the Oregon State Police. The Oregon State Police determined there was no crime associated with this incident. Specifically, the Oregon State Police determined that though the city manager’s actions may have been careless, they did not rise to the level of recklessness required under the applicable criminal statute.

7) Why did the City provide a severance package?

The severance package was offered to acknowledge the city manager’s length of service and contributions to the city, as well as to preclude the filing of any legal claims.

Timeline of events:

March 4: Negligent discharge occurred at approximately 12:00 p.m.

By 1:00 p,m. The mayor, human resources, safety committee chair and outside legal counsel were contacted.

Initial incident report submitted to human resources by 2:14 p.m.

March 5: City Council Executive Session was scheduled for March 8. An Executive Session is closed to the public.

March 8: City council held the Executive Session to discuss the incident.

March 9: City council retained an outside investigator.

March 10–12: Outside investigator was on site conducting witness interviews.

March 13–15: Outside investigator conducted additional interviews by phone.

March 18: Oregon State Police (OSP) was contacted to conduct an investigation to determine the potential for any criminal charges. OSP was on site conducting witness interviews the same day.

March 22 — Outside investigator was on site conducting a follow-up interview with the city manager.

March 23 — Outside investigator conducted an additional interview by phone.

March 29: Oregon State Police released their report indicating that there is no probable cause to support the city manager committed a criminal offense when he accidentally discharged a firearm in his office at the Keizer City Hall.

March 30: Outside investigator provided the City with a report of investigation and a supplemental report of investigation.

March 31: City council held an executive session to review the results of the investigatory report.

April 1: City council held an additional executive session. The council then met in open session to accept the city manager’s resignation. The council also authorized a severance package in exchange for a release of claims by the city manager.

April 5: Effective date of the city manager’s resignation.