Tahlequah Daily Press

October 11, 2013

City details settlements with officer, former chief

Staff Writer

TAHLEQUAH — City officials on Wednesday decided to release the details of settlement agreements made with a former police chief and a former officer.

Former Police Chief Steve Farmer and former Police Sgt. Leland Hamner each received $3,000 in settlements approved this week by city councilors, according to Tahlequah Mayor Jason Nichols.

Councilors gave their OK to the agreements Monday night during the city’s monthly meeting, but said at the time the details were “mutually confidential.”

The Daily Press then submitted a series of questions asking city officials to explain why the deals were made confidentially, and from which fund the settlements would be taken.

On Wednesday, Nichols said he spoke with City Attorney Park Medearis, as well as city councilors, and decided to release the settlement details.

Nichols said the confidentiality “wasn’t a deal-breaker” for Farmer or Hamner, and that there was never a request by either of the men to hide the details from the public.

Nichols said the funds will likely be taken from the city’s operating-reserve fund.

Farmer and Hamner both sued the city in 2010 and alleged a breach of contract, claiming the city owed them accrued benefits. The men alleged the city refused to pay those benefits when their employment ended.

Hamner and Farmer initially claimed their losses were more than $10,000 each, according to the petitions filed by their attorney, Jim Cosby.

An attempt by the city to have the lawsuits dismissed was overruled by a judge in 2011.