Ex-Pickens officer talks about firing, Swinney ticket - CBS 5 - KPHO

Ex-Pickens officer talks about firing, Swinney ticket

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Clemson head football coach Dabo Swinney signs an autograph during the Sept. 3 traffic stop. (Courtesy Pickens Police Dept.) Clemson head football coach Dabo Swinney signs an autograph during the Sept. 3 traffic stop. (Courtesy Pickens Police Dept.)
Ex-Pickens police officer Michael McClatchy addresses the media following his arrest. (Sept. 27, 2012/FOX Carolina) Ex-Pickens police officer Michael McClatchy addresses the media following his arrest. (Sept. 27, 2012/FOX Carolina)
ANDERSON (AP/FOX Carolina) -

A Pickens police officer fired for posting his version of events around the speeding ticket he issued to Clemson football coach Dabo Swinney is speaking out.

Michael McClatchy held a news conference at his lawyer's office in Anderson on Thursday to address his firing following the Swinney traffic stop. McClatchy's lawyer is University of South Carolina trustee Chuck Allen.

McClatchy clocked Swinney driving 63 mph in a 35 mph zone Sept. 3 and wrote him a ticket while the coach waited in a grocery store parking lot to do his radio show.

Pickens Police Chief Rodney Gregory issued McClatchy an employee warning report Sept. 17 that stated he violated the city's computer policy, a code of ethics and general orders, resulting in his dismissal.

The report also stated that McClatchy had received previous verbal warnings from superiors Jan. 7 and May 4. The first warning was in reference to some comments he allegedly made to another officer's girlfriend, which showed a lack of professionalism the department would not tolerate.

In a release issued on Sept. 24, city officials said McClatchy was not fired for "for conduct related to the issuance of the citation" but was fired for "engaging in private activity on company time on company equipment."

While McClatchy claimed in a post on a sports website that he thought Swinney expected to be excused for the violation, a spokesman for Swinney said the coach deserved the ticket. The spokesman said Swinney never called anyone and ask that the officer be fired.

During Thursday's press conference, Allen maintained McClatchy was unjustly fired and as his lawyer, he will help him in his fight.

McClatchy continued to stand by his accusation that Swinney's brother berated him during the traffic stop and explained his use of a department computer in posting the traffic stop online.

When Gregory allegedly told McClatchy he had received a phone call from Swinney about the speeding ticket, McClatchy told reporters that he told the chief he would post the traffic ticket online to dispel any rumors.

McClatchy said he then posted it on the online forum during his off hours but edited it for grammar at work the next day - which Gregory said violated department policy and was noted on the employee warning report issued upon McClatchy's firing.

During his nearly two years working for the Pickens Police Department, McClatchy said Gregory fired him over the phone and he never received an employee warning report though it was marked that he refused to sign them.

Gregory had previously said both Swinney and McClatchy displayed themselves in a professional manner during the traffic stop.

McClatchy said he had reduced Swinney's ticket but Gregory reduced it even further. He said he has never reduced a six-point ticket to two points.

During the press conference, McClatchy read aloud the letter he said was sent from Swinney to Gregory along with the payment for the speeding ticket.

In the letter, which was also obtained by FOX Carolina, Swinney expressed his respect for law enforcement and apologized for speeding and being a distraction. The coach also said he wished the situation had been handled differently.

When asked what their next plans were, they said they were considering legal action and recognized that a lawsuit was an option, but they were not ready to release that information.

Allen said he would leave it for others to answer the question on whether he was fired for pulling over Swinney.

Copyright 2012 FOX Carolina (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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