EDMOND — Assistant Fire Chief Tim Wheeler has been fired after being on paid administrative leave for nearly a year.
“Tim's employment was terminated for cause by me,” City Manager Larry Stevens said. “It would be inappropriate for me to say any more.”
Stevens would not comment on the reasons for the termination or why the city's criminal and administrative investigations lasted so long. He said the investigation did not lead to criminal charges.
Jim Moore, Wheeler's attorney, called the firing “ridiculous” and the investigation “shoddy.”
“It was a far-fetched allegation initiated by another employee who was being disciplined,” Moore said. “His reputation has been smeared for the last year, and now he has a chance to be heard.”
Wheeler plans to file a grievance with the local firefighters' union.
A grievance committee will determine whether Wheeler has a legitimate claim, which should go before an arbitrator who would rule whether he should get his job back.
Wheeler on Friday referred all questions to his attorney.
“I wish I could say something, but I can't right now,” Wheeler said.
Wheeler was put on paid administrative leave Oct. 7, 2011. He continued to earn a $100,000-a-year salary until Monday, six days short of a year.
Wheeler started to work for Edmond on Nov. 19, 2001. He had prior firefighting and police experience with Chickasha. He has 20 years' firefighting experience, which will go toward his retirement, Moore said.
Wheeler was suspended after an accusation he pointed a toy gun at another firefighter in May 2011, The Oklahoman was told.
The criminal investigation was completed by the end of October 2011, Moore said.
Findings from the police investigation were turned over to city leaders who gathered additional information, which resulted in the termination.
Moore said the exact cause for his firing is difficult to determine from the letter Wheeler received.
“They listed a bunch of things,” Moore said. “It is hard to tell which ones they relied on.”