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Putnam sues city for last year's termination from police force

Jody Putnam has filed a lawsuit against the Town of Mountain City, including Mayor Lawrence Keeble as chief executive for the city, City Manager Sheila Shaw, and Police Chief Denver Church as director of law enforcement. The suit was filed on October 1, 2014 and was a result of Putnam’s termination from the Mountain City Police Department following an incident last year when he was dispatched to a local store that had reported a squirrel loose inside the building.According to the suit, Putnam was sent to the Dollar General Store on September 27, 2013 when animal control could not be reached. When he arrived, Putnam attempted to reach animal control again for assistance. There were multiple attempts to catch the squirrel but they were unsuccessful.
According to the suit, Putnam was asked by the store manager if a chemical spray could be used so the animal would leave the store. After advising what could happen if the spray was used, the store manager still wanted Putnam to spray the chemical. He deployed a one-second burst of spray near the squirrel. According to the statement, the spray did not adversely affect the animal. The suit states that the store manager asked if Putnam could shoot the squirrel. He said that although it wouldn’t kill the animal because of its location, the type of ammunition would stun the squirrel and they could remove it from the store. The store manager told Putnam to do whatever it takes to get rid of the animal.
According to the lawsuit, Putnam asked customers in the store and employees to move away from the squirrel and also asked the manager to have a heavy towel available to remove the animal. The suit further states the plaintiff, Putnam, removed the magazine from the weapon and placed it on the floor. He then chambered one round in the chamber and used his protective vest and trauma plate in case it backfired. The suit continues to state the plaintiff was on his knees and once the animal reached eye level Putnam shot the only round into the wall next to the animal’s nose. The squirrel took off and ran down a corridor, but it was caught by the plaintiff, wrapped in the towel and taken outside to be released. Once the event was over, Putnam called into police dispatch that the situation had been taken care of.
According to the lawsuit, after working for two days without incident, Putnam was asked by Denver Church about the incident report. The plaintiff stated he didn’t know that reports were done for animal calls. Putnam was also told by Church that discharging a firearm in a business violated policy.
Putnam discovered there were officers at the Dollar General trying to retrieve the bullet and obtain statements from those present the day of the incident. The plaintiff called Church to inquire if he was under investigation. The suit states that Church replied after being asked three times “I guess if that is what you call it.” At that time, Putnam informed Church he had not given him his garrity rights. This is used to protect public employees from incriminating themselves in an investigation.

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