Local attorney Kyle Gilliland has attended the last three consecutive meetings of Wellston City Council to address a number of issues he has with the Wellston Police Department (WPD).
Things got off to an almost immediate rough start when Gilliland approached the podium for the Thursday night, Feb. 1 meeting's public comments portion. He first asked to be placed on the agenda for the next 10 council meetings, as he said, "I'm having too much fun."
To this remark, Council President Chris Brenner opined that Gilliland has spent more time in council chambers as of late than when he was the city's law director, a position which Gilliland held for over a decade. Gilliland, before continuing on, expressed his displeasure with Brenner's comment calling it "a horrible thing to say," and implied that he spent an immeasurable amount of time working in that capacity.
The main issue at hand this time around, however, was an incident which Gilliland said occurred on Dec. 16, 2000. He explained he was sitting in his vehicle on Pennsylvania Ave., "within spitting-distance of the police department" waiting for the traffic light to change when he was struck by a pickup truck. Gilliland stated former WPD officer Larry McKenzie arrived on the scene and asked him to move his vehicle, which Gilliland claims he did.
Upon receiving a copy of the crash report, Gilliland said the alleged at-fault party was not charged with what he described as a violation of the assured clear distance ahead statute, or with any violation for that matter.
In light of this, Gilliland said he then contacted the WPD Chief, who was John "Danny" Hall at the time. He said Hall explained to him that officers have "discretion" on whether or not they decide to write tickets.
Three years later, Gilliland said a similar situation unfolded, only this time involving his wife and fellow attorney Dana Gilliland. He said his wife was on Pennsylvania Ave. near Dairy Queen waiting for the traffic light to change, when her vehicle was struck from behind. Gilliland said this incident ended in similar fashion as well, with no ticket being written. This time, however, the officer in question was the current acting Chief John Robinson.
In both instances, Gilliland said he attempted to engage WPD personnel about the issue, but to no avail. Gilliland asked three questions at last Thursday's meeting: what is the source of the discretion, how is the discretion reviewed and what are the parameters of the discretion. In answering these questions, Gilliland said he was never told what the source is, nobody reviews the discretion and there are no parameters.
"It is absolute, unbridled, unmitigated, pure discretion," Gilliland said. "Why do I care? The reason it matters is, now we have no laws. This is the genesis of my problem with the WPD."
Next, Gilliland suggested taking down all traffic-control devices in the city and replace them with signs at the edges of town reading, "Welcome to Wellston, try and be nice but we don't have any rules here; we don't have any laws whatsoever."
As Gilliland's five minutes came to an end, citizen George Jacubec asked him why he waited until recently to air his displeasure with issues that occurred so many years ago. To this, Gilliland replied, "It's gotten worse."
Councilman Keith Woolum then suggested that Gilliland apologize to WPD Officer Sonya Jones for "calling her a pig" during an incident in July 2017 involving a break in at the home of Gilliland's father. That incident was the first addressed by Gilliland during the Jan. 4 meeting of this year.
"I'm not going to apologize to anyone," Gilliland responded. He also questioned how he became the "bad guy" in a situation where he was the victim of a crime.
During his encounter with Officer Jones, Gilliland stated he expressed his displeasure with the WPD with her and was "met with a siege mentality."
"Why was she responding to me like that?" Gilliland asked.
"Because you were mean to her," Woolum answered. "And obnoxious and disrespectful."
Prior to Gilliland leaving council chambers, Service Director Bill Shumate stated he had a copy of a traffic ticket and court documents from the incident involving Gilliland's wife in July 2003. Chief Robinson explained this information to Gilliland, stating a ticket was in fact issued as a result of that accident to the at-fault party. Gilliland asked Chief Robinson if, at the time of the accident, he had told his wife that no ticket was going to be written. Robinson indicated that, as this incident was "15 years ago," he could not recall what was exactly said or not said.
In other business
Resolution 2018-03 was adopted in emergency fashion. This legislation involves placing a 1-mil, five-year renewal tax levy on May 8 primary election ballots for the purpose of maintaining and operating cemeteries.