Former Sturgeon Police Chief Greg Halderman is appealing his removal from office to the state Supreme Court and suing city officials for wrongful termination in Boone County Circuit Court.
The two petitions were filed Thursday, more than a month after the Sturgeon Board of Aldermen voted to remove Halderman from his position as police chief.
“The city of Sturgeon will defend any appeal of Mr. Halderman’s removal as chief of police,” said Jeff Kays, attorney for the city of Sturgeon. “Mr. Halderman’s allegations of wrongdoing by the city of Sturgeon, its mayor and aldermen have no basis in fact, and will be defended accordingly.”
A 2013 amendment to state law allows Halderman’s appeal to go straight to the Missouri Supreme Court. If the Supreme Court rules to hear the case, it would be the first case under the police chief removal statute.
“So because it hasn’t actually made it to the Supreme Court before, it’s unclear how the Supreme Court is going to resolve that conflict between the statute and the (state) constitution,” said Joanna Trachtenberg, with TGH Litigation LLC, the law firm representing Halderman through his appeal process.
The Boone County Circuit Court lawsuit is challenging the city of Sturgeon’s removal process, citing Halderman was fired without just cause or due process.
The Board of Aldermen said Halderman was unable to perform his duties as police chief, citing alleged alcohol abuse and inappropriate behavior while on the job. The board cited four alleged incidents involving the chief dating back to 2014.
The circuit court petition claims the March 27 removal hearing did not comply with the Missouri Administrative Procedures Act. It claims there were no transcripts from the hearing, and the city didn’t provide any witnesses in support of the alleged incidents and didn’t allow Halderman to cross-examine the statements made against him.
“It’s really not fair to Chief Halderman and it doesn’t give him the opportunity to respond to these alleged reasons if they don’t put forward a real case against him,” Trachtenberg said.
The petition claims Halderman believes he was removed from his police chief position because he refused to run a criminal background check on 2017 candidate for mayor, reported allegations of domestic violence against another Sturgeon police officer to the Sheriff’s Department, and reported an alderman in violation of the Sunshine Law to the Missouri Attorney General’s Office.
ABC 17 News spoke to Mayor Danny Joiner, who was formerly member of the board of aldermen, on the phone Friday. He referred any comments or statement to the city’s attorney. He said the search for a new police chief has been put on hold while they deal with the legal issues.