Tahlequah Daily Press

October 9, 2013

City settles with ex-police chief, cop

By JOSH NEWTON
Staff Writer

TAHLEQUAH — Tahlequah city councilors approved a “confidential” agreement this week with a former police chief and a former officer.

Former Chief of Police Steven Farmer and former Police Sgt. Leland Hamner filed suit in 2010, alleging a breach of contract on the city’s part.

Farmer and Hamner both claimed they accrued benefits during their employment, and that when their tenures with the city ended, the city breached their contracts by refusing to pay those benefits.

Both men claimed their losses were in excess of $10,000.

At the time, City Attorney Park Medearis said the time had expired for Farmer and Hamner to file claims.

The city asked a judge in late 2010 to dismiss the claims, but the judge declined to set aside the petitions in 2011.

In November 2012, District Judge Darrell Shepherd asked for a scheduling order to be submitted to the court. Records show that order was submitted seven months later. Meanwhile, Farmer campaigned to recapture the city’s police chief post for what would have been his second term, but lost his bid.

In July, Farmer’s and Hamner’s cases were consolidated and settlement attempts began, court records show. The case was later set for a jury trial in September, but was ultimately settled.

City councilors met behind closed doors Monday evening to discuss the potential settlement. When they returned to open session, councilors voted unanimously to approve the “mutually confidential” agreements with the men.

The Daily Press on Tuesday submitted questions to Tahlequah Mayor Jason Nichols about the city’s decision not to release details of the settlement, but responses had not been provided as of press time.

Farmer and Hamner were both represented by local attorney Jim Cosby.

jnewton@tahlequahdailypress.com