WEST TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTHI) – The West Terre Haute Safety Board voted to dismiss an officer at a public meeting Monday night, but the process is not over.
The decision to dismiss Officer Jonathan Stevens Sr. was made just minutes after the public meeting began. The ruling left many stunned and others satisfied. Some members of the public questioned why they were invited to the proceedings if they, and Stevens, could not speak on the matter.
The board voted 2 to 1 to remove Stevens from his job.
Stevens had been on paid administrative leave following his arrest in a domestic violence incident. He later pleaded guilty to a lesser sentence of disorderly conduct.
The town council brought in attorney Chris Gambill for the meeting. Gambill says Indiana code is clear; Stevens was convicted of a crime so he can be fired.
According to Gambill, Stevens has five days to request a hearing. Stevens says he will.
Then, the board would have to conduct a hearing and present evidence to support the decision to dismiss Stevens. The board could go back on its decision but if not, and Stevens is still dismissed, he could make an appeal to a Vigo county superior court.
After the decision Monday night Stevens called out board member Chuck Stranahan saying he has evidence Stranahan used the ‘N’-word and made racist remarks about him. He says he filed a federal lawsuit regarding the claims.
Stevens says,"I have documents here from a federal lawsuit I filed back where the council member Chuck Stranahan, which is documented, has four different employees from here that made some statements in regards to, racist statements. They're all here signed by the old Chief Donnie Lark, the old Assistant Chief Scott Melton and two of the waterworks employees at which point that the council member Chuck Stranahan stated that he wanted to play a video game and there was reference to killing a village full of a bunch of 'N'-words which is a racist, derogatory statement. He also said that once he was elected to the town board, which he was, that he would then fire that "N"-word."
Stevens declined to talk about the incident that landed him in jail.
We asked members of the board for comment but they declined.