CHARLESTON - A fired Clendenin police officer has changed his focus to why he got fired after first trying to determine if he could be fired.
Charles Burkhamer filed a lawsuit June 19 in Kanawha Circuit Court against Robert Ore, the Mayor Clendenin, alleging that he was fired in retaliation for filing a complaint with Kanawha County magistrate that led to Ore turning himself in to police.
Burkhamer had previously tried to determine that his firing was outside Ore's authority, but Kanawha Circuit Court Judge Tod Kaufman determined that state law gives a mayor control of his town's police department.
After trying to settle the dispute without litigation, Burkhamer is now pursuing a different avenue. Judge Louis Bloom has been assigned this case.
Burkhamer's complaint in Kanawha Magistrate Court says he was attempting to execute an arrest warrant on Clendenin residents Terry Peck and Misti Sexton at 11:30 p.m. on April 20 when Peck answered her door and handed him a phone.
On the other end was Ore, who told him that he did not approve of serving warrants so late at night and instructed him not to arrest the couple.
Burkhamer filed his complaint Magistrate Court June 5, claiming Ore was guilty of obstruction. Ore learned of a warrant that was drawn up and turned himself in.
Burkhamer's civil complaint says he was wrongfully fired later that day by Ore.
"The adverse employment action taken by the individual defendant in his capacity as Mayor of the Town of Clendenin was in direct retaliation for the warrant or arrest being issued, of which the same Mayor was the subject thereof," the complaint says.
Henry Wood III of Wood Law Office in Charleston is handling Burkhamer's case. He is currently on vacation and could not be reached for comment.
Burkhamer is seeking back pay, front pay, reinstatement to his job and general, compensatory and punitive damages.
Kanawha Circuit Court case number 06-C-1176