Former Atwater police chief files lawsuit against city for fair hearing following termination

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Former Atwater police chief sues city for fair hearing following termination

New court documents allege former Atwater Police Chief, Samuel Joseph, hired a felon to be an officer, and threatened employees.

His defense attorney, Michael Rains, claims none of the allegations are true.

"It contains a series of allegations that the city knows are false. The city tried to engineer this case so Chief Joseph would never have a meaningful hearing to prove that there is no merit to any one of these allegations," Rains said.

A termination letter was made public and became part of Joseph's lawsuit against the city of Atwater.

In that letter, city officials also claim that Joseph knew the department's evidence locker was not properly secured.

The letter also claims he supplied a gun to a code enforcement officer that failed a psychological exam.

Joseph's attorney says the city cannot prove any of the allegations, and that they won't give his client a fair hearing.

"The law says that the city has to call witnesses and present evidence to prove the charges. Right in the language, they don't want to do that because they cant prove it," Rains said.

City officials say they can't comment on the case at this time because it's a personnel issue and in litigation.

The Atwater City manager, however, does say they're making needed improvements to the police department, which she says includes tracking who comes in and out of the evidence room.

"To identify the issues that were identified and correct them going forward, whether it be setting policies or following up and ensuring there's a process to be followed," said Lori Waterman. "There was no tracking of who was entering, who's not entering, so there is an established process now."

Along with suing for damages and attorney fees, Joseph's attorney says they're suing for the right to a fair hearing and the right to a neutral hearing officer.

"We're suing them to have a hearing before a neutral hearing officers, selected by the joint parties. Not someone who the city has paid to tell them the result they want," said Rains.

Rains says the city has to file an answer and is waiting for a hearing to be scheduled.
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