The interim chief of the State Capitol Police, Tony Asion, should not have been fired last year for setting up a new system of off-duty work for his officers in an agency that suffered from low morale because of low pay, layoffs and poor equipment, an administrative law judge has ruled.
Judge Donald Overby ordered Asion reinstated as assistant chief with back pay and benefits, with 30 days of pay withheld for violations of policy.
Asion was fired by Gerald Rudisill, an administrator in the state Department of Public Safety who oversaw the police agency. Kieran Shanahan, who was then head of the department, upheld the firing, saying Asion should not have allowed officers to work off-duty at a nightclub in Raleigh that had a bad reputation.
Overby noted that, although Club B.E.D. apparently had a reputation for violence and other problems, no evidence was presented to prove that. Even if that was true, Overby wrote in his May 9 ruling, that shouldn’t prevent law enforcement officers from working there while off-duty.
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“Common sense would seem to dictate that police presence would lessen the bad behaviors associated with the club,” Overby wrote.
Instead, the judge found, Asion was new to the job – replacing a chief who died the month after Asion was hired – put in charge of a dispirited agency, given little direction, told to rely on his own experience, did not take any money for himself and had “nothing but the best intentions in everything that he did.”
Overby said Rudisill, who has since retired, admitted that Asion had been fired for the same things that had been going on in the agency for some time, and that Rudisill didn’t adequately supervise Asion.
“Mr. Rudisill had no clue what was going on in that agency,” Overby wrote.
Asion challenged his firing, and hired Raleigh attorney Michael C. Byrne, who has represented numerous state law enforcement officers in personnel cases. The state has not said whether it will appeal the ruling.