A Piedmont police officer who wrote a $2,500 ticket to a mother in a case of public urination complaint involving her 3-year-old has been fired, City Manager Jim Crosby said on Tuesday
Digital Journal reports that police officer Ken Qualls ticketed Ashley Warden on Sunday, November 4, after he saw Warden's 3-year-old son, Dillan, drop his pants in the front yard of the family home at 4505 Ryan Drive.
Piedmont Police Chief Alex Oblein, later admitted that writing the ticket was a mistake.
According to City Manger Crosby, Qualls admitted that he did not see the boy urinate in the yard, but said he saw a teenager lead the boy to the spot in the yard where he appeared to urinate. According to Lalate, it was the teenager who confirmed to the officer that Dillan urinated on the lawn. When Qualls saw a spot in the lawn where the toddler had apparently urinated, he issued the ticket to Ashley Warden, the toddler's mother.
Lalate reports that earlier media accounts of the incident had wrongly suggested that Qualls issued the ticket to Dillan.
Crosby said Qualls was fired on Friday after a hearing on November 14.
The Oklahoman reports that prosecutors at the Canadian County district attorney's office refused to pursue the case against Warden. According to Lalate, after an investigation that involved the Piedmont police chief and the Piedmont City Council members, it was decided that the ticket was wrongly issued and that the fine was "abhorrent." Police Chief Alex Oblein said the ticket written against the mother was withdrawn and the complaint against Ashley Warden was changed to "contributing to the delinquency of a minor."
Crosby said Piedmont City Council members received protest emails about the ticket from around the world, including Canada, England and Australia. He said: “Of course we did receive a lot of notoriety over that."
According to The Oklahoman, Qualls plans to appeal the decision. Crosby said a hearing will be scheduled before the Piedmont personnel board.
Qualls' attorney, Jarrod Leaman, said on Wednesday, that firing the officer was unfair because he was just doing his job. Qualls explained that he was responding to complaints that someone was urinating on vehicles when he saw Dillan drop his pants on the family’s lawn, The Oklahoman reports.
Officers were sent to the area in response to complaints of loud parties, beer bottles thrown into lawns, and cars being urinated on, Police Chief Alex Oblein said.
Qualls, 45, had been with the Piedmont police for over a year and has about 18 years experience in law enforcement.
Leaman, Quall's attorney, said Qualls, a member of the Oklahoman Police Pension and Retirement System, plans to appeal his termination.
Leaman said Qualls feels let down by the city and police force for failing to stand by him: “He is disappointed with the city because he put his life on the line for the city every day."
Piedmont Mayor Valerie Thomerson, apparently defending the decision, said more than 200 emails from residents protesting the incident were fielded before the decision to fire the officer was taken.