Wilson Police Chief Felix Hernandez has been put on suspension after he dismissed a ticket issued to former Love County Sheriff Joe Russell.
Hernandez has been placed on 30 days unpaid suspension, but is allowed to use his vacation time during so that he won’t have to go without pay for the full 30 days, Wilson Mayor Frank Schaaf said.
The ticket in question was issued by a Wilson police officer to Russell after he allegedly failed to move over as he was driving past a traffic stop — an action required under Oklahoma law.
Russell allegedly told Hernandez that he didn’t move over because an oncoming car made it dangerous to do so. Consequently, Hernandez dismissed the ticket.
Hernandez’s judgement was called into question by city officials and a special council meeting was held Monday to determine if Hernandez made the wrong call.
Ultimately, the council voted to place Hernandez on leave.
“This matter has been resolved and the city of Wilson is moving forward,” Schaaf said. “It was a bad judgment call on the chief’s part.”
Schaaf said it has yet to be decided if the ticket will be reinstated.
The controversy surrounding the events not only stem from the ticket dismissal, but for whom the ticket was dismissed.
Russell resigned from office after a multi-county grand jury filed removal proceedings last July to oust the former sheriff. Russell was charged with two counts of corruption in office, two counts of willful neglect of duty, and one count of willful maladministration.
The charges stemmed from an investigation that alleged Russell let his son deal meth from his police car, harboring a fugitive in his home, covered up a missing-persons case and allegedly arresting intoxicated bikini-wearing lake goers and forcing them to strip for him at his home.
Russell eventually accepted a plea deal in March for a misdemeanor charge of willful omission to perform a duty and other felony charges against him were dropped. He was sentenced to one year unsupervised probation and a few hundred dollars in court costs.