There is a camaraderie among the Blue mob, a mentality that it’s the brotherhood before all else. A Trumpian “Cop First” group thought that at times seems impregnable. But what is honor amongst thieves? Apparently the same amongst cops. Clarksville Police Department Captain Donald Craig Gipson was recently demoted (instead of fired) over having an affair with a fellow captain’s wife. Gipson admitted to having the affair with Captain Michael Thornton’s wife in 2017.
Gipson is now suing the city over the demotion and is demanding in Chancery Court that his job be restored. The former captain is also asking for back pay. Gipson was demoted to Patrolman II making $48,003 from Captain making $73,369 after admitting to Police Chief Al Ansley last spring of the affair.
According to the lawsuit, Capt. Thornton heard that his wife’s car was parked at Gipson’s home on April 6. Thornton went to Gipson’s home to investigate. Upon arrival, Thornton’s wife came outside to address her husband.
“I began to curse loudly and accuse her of having an affair, during which time Captain Gipson exited his residence to stand on the porch,” wrote Thornton in a statement. “Initially, he stated that it was not what I thought and that he was consoling her. I then asked my wife if they were having sex, and she confirmed that they were and that they had been since February 2017. Captain Gipson then hung his head with his hands on his porch rail and I resumed yelling about the situation at both of them.”
Gipson is not contesting that he had the affair. Gipson is having issues wrapping his mind around the fact that Chief Ansley and Thornton are “close friends” didn’t play a role in his punishment. Even though he did something wrong and unethical and jeopardized the integrity of the department, the chief’s bias towards Ansley played a deciding role in his punishment.
“Alonzo Ansley acted arbitrarily and capricious and failed to follow proper protocol,” read the lawsuit. The protocol referenced the city codes and police department’s general orders.
Ansley counters that it was Gipson’s own actions that cost him his position. Gipson’s lack of self-restraint and poor decision-making made it impossible for him to continue on in a supervisory capacity.
According to Ansley, Gipson violated the city’s code with “conduct which adversely affects the employee’s job performance or operation of the department” in which they are employed.
“I find that the decision you made has caused disruption and adversity to this department, as well as bringing discredit to both you and the organization,” wrote Ansley. “Furthermore, you made this decision as a senior member of the command staff, which in my opinion magnifies the seriousness of this case. I find that you have compromised your ability to be an effective leader in the organization. I believe that placing you in any supervisory position within this department will impair the operation of this department, the morale of this department and the efficiency of this department.”
Ansley also said he was disturbed by the fact that Thornton and Gipson’s confrontation was witnessed by other law enforcement officers working for the county. The fallout had stirred up rumors creating an unnecessary distraction within the department.
“Everybody in this department knows about it,” Ansley said.
Gipson called the move “unprecedented”. Sheri Phillips, Gipson’s attorney, told The Leaf-Chronicle that she was not aware of any other case where an officer in a department was punished for having an affair off duty. At least it was conducted off-duty.
“I don’t think they followed their procedures,” Phillips said. “Discipline is supposed to be consistent… They are supposed to compare discipline from the past, and it’s our contention that’s not what happened.”
Clarksville Mayor Kim McMillan struck down Gipson’s appeal and upheld his demotion.
Phillips wrote a letter to the mayor informing her of the appeal because it was “unfair under the circumstances and not consistent with discipline handed down to other employees similarly situated.” Phillips cited several cases where officers engaged in inappropriate sexual conduct and received a slap on the wrist if anything at all.
Interestingly enough, the mayor’s husband is none other than Judge Larry McMillan, who normally hears all cases in Chancery Court. The Leaf-Chronicle reports that Judge McMillan has recused himself from the case due to his proximity and relation to the mayor.
Despite his actions, Chief Ansley gave Gipson a choice. Court documents indicate that Ansley relayed to Gipson his consideration for canning him. The chief asked the disgraced captain if he would still be able to function in the department if he was demoted instead of fired, to which he agreed.
Ansley did not comment on the specifics of the case due to pending litigation.
“The litigation will have to run its course through the judicial system,” said Ansley. “The decisions I have made on matters brought to my attention reflects the professional standards of the Clarksville Police Department, which does include police officers being held accountable and responsible for their own actions and decisions.”
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