Review board upholds dismissal of officer

Robert Smith
Pawhuska Journal-Capital

A Pawhuska city government police review board voted, 5-0, on Thursday, July 15, to uphold the dismissal of a police officer accused of violating departmental policy in early May.

Officer William Wamego reportedly requested the appeal proceeding, but did not appear before the police review board. Interim Police Chief Lorrie Hennesy told the review board that she hand-delivered notice of the proceeding to Wamego on July 9 at his home. The appeal hearing took place at the Pawhuska Community Center.

Wamego and another officer, Jesse Winfield, were dismissed from the police force in the aftermath of an incident May 3. Winfield reportedly did not appeal. The officers were disciplined in regard to details of their responses to a verbal domestic incident, in which there were no weapons and there had been no violence. Custody of a child was at issue.

While the review board waited July 15, attempting to give Wamego time to arrive, Hennesy showed videos – both dash camera footage and officer body camera footage – of the incident to members of the board. She explained that an electroshock weapon was used on a man at the call scene who had not disobeyed any command from officers. The man had put his hands in the air. Hennesy also said the man did not receive immediate medical attention.

“They stuck him in a car. He didn’t get medical attention until I got there,” Hennesy said.

There was a tort claim filing in regard to the incident, which Interim City Manager Tonya Bright said already had been settled through the city’s insurance carrier.

Hennesy said Wamego had been given more than one opportunity, prior to his dismissal, to explain his behavior during the May 3 domestic disturbance call.

“We didn’t do this lightly,” Hennesy said.

The review board consisted of Dr. M. Cameron Rumsey, attorney Jesse Worten III, Mayor Roger Taylor, and former police officers Darrell Jordan and Mark Chamberlain. Thomas LeBlanc, a Tulsa lawyer, provided legal advice for the board.

Members of the board made brief observations about the case. Chamberlain said it seemed to him that Wamego’s actions had the effect of aggravating the situation rather than de-escalating it.