Deputies Derek Robbins and Chris Stratton responded but passed on investigating the matter, instead calling Kentucky State Police. Trooper Michael Keeton arrived and administered a Breathalyzer test to Douglas, which revealed the mayor had a blood-alcohol content of .04 percent, court records show. Under Kentucky law, a person is considered drunk if their blood-alcohol rate is .08 percent or greater, so Douglas was not cited. After the other officers left, Douglas fired Gipson on the spot.
Court records show Douglas initially told Gipson he was being fired because the mayor did not like him. The official termination letter stated Gipson, who also served as fire chief, was dismissed for insubordination for failing to address the mayor’s concerns about leaving the doors to the fire station open, allowing unauthorized personnel to ride in city police cars and excessive fuel use by the police department.
Filings in the case show the mayor also offered another reason for Gipson’s dismissal. Douglas said that Gipson told him in October 2010 that he was retiring at the end of year. Gipson was running for Boyle County sheriff at the time and had heard that Douglas planned to replace him with Merl Baldwin, a former deputy who is now Junction City’s police chief.
When Gipson told the mayor in November that he needed to work through September 2011 to collect his full retirement benefits, Douglas balked. “What are we going to do. We’ve already made other plans,” Douglas told Gipson, according to court records.
In the lawsuit, Gipson claimed his firing violated the state’s Whistleblower’s Act and Policeman’s Bill of Rights, but Boyle Circuit Judge Darren Peckler dismissed those counts, saying those statutes didn’t apply to Gipson’s termination. Peckler, however, allowed Gipson to proceed on his wrongful termination claim, stating that Gipson was “performing acts pursuant to Kentucky statutes” when he called in other officers to investigate his suspicions that the mayor was drunk.
In the lawsuit, Gipson asked for reinstatement to his job, back pay and punitive damages for sullying his reputation. None of those matters will be addressed during mediation, however; Irwin said the settlement talks will center on Gipson receiving payment for the money from his retirement fund that he has had to spend since his firing.
“He’s been out of work ever since,” Erwin said. “He’s had to cash in his retirement to pay his bills.”
Court records show Gipson, who worked for Junction City for 10 years, has withdrawn all $20,248 available in his retirement account. Had he continued in his job through September 2011, he would have been eligible for $22,083, records show.