Gustine city leaders defending hiring of terminated police officer

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- The city of Gustine is defending a controversial police hire. Officer Shawn Osborne was sworn into office last week, two years after he was fired from the Alameda County Sheriff's Office.

RELATED: Newest Gustine Police officer previously fired for allegedly bribing witnesses

A joyous Facebook post meant to celebrate Gustine PD's newest hire, turned into an inquisition of its hiring process. While the department boasted about Officer Shawn Osborne's previous work experience with the Alameda County Sheriff's Office, people couldn't help but notice the manner in which he left.

"This is one of the things that I think the community should know the truth about," said Gloria Matuk of Gustine.

Osborne was terminated in 2016 after surveillance video surfaced, showing him allegedly swinging a gold chain he stole from a car thief suspect. While two others deputies beat the suspect in a San Francisco alleyway, Osborne was accused of giving the necklace to two homeless people nearby in exchange for their silence.

"It is surprising, because if somebody with that kind of a background is being hired to protect and serve your town, you want to be sure these people have a clean background," said Matuk.

Gustine City Manager Doug Dunford says he was aware of the allegations and tells us most of it isn't true. He explained that if Osborne did in fact take anything - he would not have been hired here.

"Officer Osborne, like all police officers, was subjected to a rigorous pre-employment background check and investigation. His background check included a review of Officer Osborne's past work history."

Osborne will also serve as a school resource officer at Gustine Unified for the rest of the school year. City leaders have reassured the superintendent about Osborne's controversial history.

"We've been assured that they've gone through a very extensive background check and that there wasn't something there that would preclude them from hiring him," said Superintendent Bryan Ballenger.

Some residents, unhappy with the city's answer, have written on Facebook they plan to attend the next city council meeting. Meanwhile, the city manager stands by the hire, telling us "Osborne will meet and exceed these high expectations."
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