McClatchy calls firing ‘wrongful’

ANDERSON — Former Pickens Police officer Michael McClatchy, along with his attorney, Chuck Allen of Anderson, held a news conference last Thursday to address his firing, for what Pickens city officials say was the use of city computers to post the details of a traffic stop on Clemson head football coach Dabo Swinney.

Last week the Courier reported that McClatchy was terminated following his posting of the details of the incident, which occurred at the Pickens Bilo on S.C. 8, to a University of South Carolina football message board.

During the formal press conference, held at Allen’s office, McClatchy said he had not made the post on a department computer, but rather had edited the post at work. He also said police chief Rodney Gregory had known about his intentions to post about the incident.

“I was wrongfully terminated for doing my job,” McClatchy said. “The computer issue is a red herring. The law should be enforced in a fair manner and apply equally to everyone. I took a solemn oath to do just that and is what I did.”
The city of Pickens responded with a release of its own later in the day.

“The city of Pickens did not terminate Mr. McClatchy for conduct related to the issuance of the citation. His conduct during the traffic stop was professional and he followed all appropriate procedures,” the release said. “Mr. McClatchy was terminated for engaging in private activity on company time on company equipment in addition to violating several general orders. It is important to note that Mr. McClatchy spent an hour and a half during his police shift at the police station ‘editing’ his blog post.”

McClatchy and Allen said they would consider all legal avenues to resolving the case.

“If necessary, the city is fully prepared to defend our decision,” the city of Pickens’ release said. “However, we will do so in a more proper setting, such as a court room where these matters belong.”

During the traffic stop, McClatchy also declined to accept a phone call from Pickens Mayor David Owens.

Owens issued a statement Thursday as well.

“The manager of Bi-Lo called me to inform me of the chaos being caused at Bi-Lo related to the incident,” Owens said. “I did ask to speak to the officer involved and when I was informed he was unable to come to the phone, I spoke with the other officer involved at the scene. I told them to continue doing their job and follow the proper procedures, because there were a lot of people watching.“