PIEDMONT — A police officer who lost his job over a public urination ticket he wrote was just doing his job, his attorney said Wednesday.
Ken Qualls, 45, wants his job back, attorney Jarrod Leaman said.
Qualls, who has 18 years' experience as a law officer, was investigating complaints of someone urinating on vehicles when he wrote the ticket Nov. 4 to Ashley Warden because her 3-year-old son, Dillan, dropped his pants in the family's front yard.
Police Chief Alex Oblein confirmed extra patrol had been ordered for the area where the Wardens live because neighbors had complained about loud music, beer bottles being thrown in their yards, vehicles being urinated on and obscene language being used.
Qualls worked a little more than a year in Piedmont before he was fired Nov. 16.
“He is disappointed with the city because he put his life on the line for the city every day,” Leaman said.
Piedmont Mayor Valerie Thomerson said she has responded to more than 200 emails from residents who are upset the ticket was written but has not heard any support for the officer. She said she supports the city manager's decision to fire the officer.
“I will not defend stupid,” Thomerson said. “I will defend the police and the police department, but not this officer's action.”
The mayor said she is appalled the ticket was written at all.
The ticket was written for public urination, but was amended to contributing to the delinquency of a minor. Canadian County prosecutors declined to charge the mother.
A charge and conviction could have resulted in a fine of up to $2,500.
Leaman said Qualls acted on “probable cause,” when he witnessed others at the home taking the boy to a spot where the boy pulled his pants down. Qualls was trying to “enforce the law and keep the peace,” he said.
Qualls talked to his supervisor on duty before writing the ticket, Leaman said.
Leaman said he thinks his client was fired simply because of the embarrassment the city has experienced over widespread publicity about the incident.
“This (firing) is an overreaction to the ticket being written,” Leaman said.
He said Qualls is a member of an Oklahoma police pension program and is looking at his options to appeal the decision.
“Losing your job is never good, and it is certainly going to be a financial hardship for him,” Leaman said. “He is very disappointed.”