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January 26, 2010
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Wyo. cops fired for using TASER won't get jobs back

Two officers were fired after using TASER 76-year-old man driving a tractor in a parade

By Ben Neary
The Associated Press

GLENROCK, Wyo. — Officials in the small Wyoming town of Glenrock have upheld the firing of two police officers who chased and Tasered a 76-year-old man driving a tractor in a parade.

The Glenrock Town Council voted Monday night to uphold last year's terminations of Officer Michael Kavenius and Sgt. Paul Brown.

According to a state review of the incident, Bud Grose was shocked five times with Kavenius' Taser during Glenrock's annual Deer Creek Days Parade in August.

Grose was driving an antique tractor in the parade and disobeyed Kavenius' traffic command, police said. Brown pulled a police vehicle in front of Grose's tractor, and the tractor collided with it.

Neither former officer was present at the council meeting. A lawyer representing the two has said they violated no police policies or procedures and deserved to be reinstated.

"Sgt. Brown and Officer Kavenius are decent, hardworking men who have generously volunteered to the community and worked in the law enforcement establishment for years," Casper lawyer John H. Robinson said last year.

Grose didn't attend the meeting either but said in a telephone interview afterward he was grateful to the Glenrock community and the council. Glenrock has a population of about 2,300 and is about 25 miles east of Casper.

"It just kind of shows what people can accomplish when they hang together," Grose said. He said he's been consulting with a lawyer but hasn't decided whether he will sue over the incident.

The incident drew an angry mob, with many people shouting that police mishandled the situation, according to investigators' reports. It has since focused attention on the performance of Glenrock's seven-member police department.

"About everybody thinks it was uncalled for, it could have been handled strictly different," Grose said.

His son, Mike Grose, attended Monday's meeting and thanked the council for making what he called a hard but just decision.

Councilor Bruce Vinolla was among the three who voted to uphold the officers' firings. "As the process went forward, everything just kind of pointed toward the decision," he said after the meeting. "It just kind of made itself."

Vinolla said he believes many in the community were concerned that the situation would be swept under the rug. But he noted that the town called in outside law enforcement agencies to investigate, and said such things take time.

Glenrock Mayor Steve Cielinski and a fourth councilor didn't take part in the vote; the mayor was involved in the investigation, and the councilor had connections to people involved.

Glenrock Police Chief Tom Sweet said after the council vote that he had recommended the firings be upheld. He said the officers were put on administrative leave in August and terminated in September.

"It's been highly emotional for the community - for everyone involved," Sweet said. He said he expects to have two new officers working by this summer.

Associated PressCopyright 2014 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

"I just hope that the community will have confidence in and support the police department as a whole, and the individual officers as they're trying to do their jobs," Sweet said. "I think this incident kind of brought to light even bad things happen in small communities, and your officers have to be professional whether they're in Glenrock, Wyoming, or New York City."

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