FERRELVIEW, Mo. — Residents were able to express impassioned support and opposition of police chief Daniel Clayton during this month’s Village of Ferrelview Board of Trustees meeting, and this time around, no additional law enforcement officials were needed to curtail the proceedings.
A packed city hall Tuesday, June 14 provided the backdrop for another intriguing chapter in the small community’s ongoing saga. This meeting featured the announcement of the city attorney’s sudden resignation, two official court summonses presented to city officials during open session, a lengthy closed session and more allegations of Clayton’s history of alleged wrongdoing while working in law enforcement.
Clayton also addressed media members for the first time about the ongoing controversy surrounding him, which included Platte County Sheriff’s Office deputies responding to last month’s meeting when the proceedings got out of hand. Citizens of the village just east of KCI Airport remain frustrated not only with the police chief but the trustees, as well.
In an interview with The Citizen before Tuesday’s board meeting, Theresa Wilson, a nine-year village resident, said Ferrelview is currently dealing with “the worst board ever.”
“Board by board, they’ve gotten worse and worse,” Wilson said. “I filed a complaint (against Clayton), and now I’m a target of the board.”
However, some left after less than an hour of open session Tuesday believing positive steps were taken.
Although critical of individuals standing in opposition of Clayton, Brooks Moseley — a 12-year Ferrelview resident — spoke with some of those very people outside of city hall while the meeting went into closed session for about 45 minutes. Eventually, most of the citizens left before open session resumed.
During the public comment portion of the meeting, Moseley received backlash from hecklers in the audience while he spoke, one specifically criticizing the fact that he was visibly shaking.
“Because I’m nervous, idiot,” he responded, which was met with an audible “Ooh” from other audience members and a brief moment of tense silence.
“I think that not enough people feel that they were heard, but it’s a good start; more of this needs to happen,” Moseley said.
In all, more than a dozen addressed the board Tuesday with most speaking about Clayton and his actions during a tenure of less than a year with the village. Previous discussions have centered around his perceived misuse of force and the abundance of tickets he’s written.
In documents The Citizen previously obtained, tickets in Ferrelview Municipal Court have drastically increased for the 11 months Clayton has been filing citations, reporting an average of 43.3 a month for a village of about 450 residents. Figures have often shown gains month to month, and in May, the number of tickets filed increased to 65.
“If you stop somebody for doing something, … it’s considered harassment these days, not that you’re just doing your job,” Clayton said.
Dennis Rowland, a practicing attorney from Kansas City, Mo. who has been representing area residents alleging misconduct, agreed with Moseley’s comment regarding the successes of the meeting. However, not all residents left with a satisfying resolution.
Susanne Gilheaney, another Ferrelview resident, attempted to present her perspective of an alleged misconduct situation involving Clayton, but Gilheaney eventually became outraged during the meeting with what she deemed a lack of response from the board.
Clayton supposedly stopped Gilheaney, detained her and forced her to spend the night in a Platte County Sheriff’s Office holding cell back in January. She was eventually charged with a citation for disturbing the peace but says she has never received a response as to why she was held overnight.
Gilheaney continues to seek an answer from Clayton on the incident but did not receive one Tuesday, eventually sitting down before calling the chief “a slippery eel.”
Wilson also chose to address the board but didn’t focus on Clayton, instead bringing up more bizarre happenings in Ferrelview. She expressed her concern with a feral cat problem that led board chairperson Steve Carr to inquire about whether the village has a phone number for animal control.
The answer to that question is yes. The Village of Ferrelview website lists a phone number for animal control; however, that number also appears a line above animal control, as the non-emergency contact for the village police department, thus adding to the confusion.
Wilson also alleged misconduct by Clayton over the officer’s handling of her son in a previous case.
In the midst of the discussion, Clayton and board member Frank Baumann were presented with court summonses in recently filed civil cases. Robert Rowland, son of Dennis Rowland and another detractor of Clayton, presented the papers as a process server for the Kansas City, Mo. area.
The summons for Clayton is regarding a writ of mandamus, which Dennis Rowland describes as a court order to “either start or stop doing some specific action.” He claims that previous attempts to organize a meeting for concerned citizens, which took place late last month, involved a resident posting notices.
The lawyer said that those posters were inside of the KCI Kwik Stop gas station in Ferrelview with permission of the owner.
“Well, Clayton comes around and rips them off,” Dennis Rowland said.
Tara Borron of Kansas City, Mo. and Derrick Hayes of Overland Park, Kan. are the plaintiffs for that case.
Baumann, who also serves as Ferrelview’s water commissioner, is the defendant in a civil case with seven plaintiffs, including Borron and Hayes. Rowland describes the lawsuit as relating to comments Baumann allegedly made against certain Ferrelview residents in a defamatory and public nature.
Dennis Rowland is representing all of the plaintiffs in both cases.
In reaction to the presentation of summonses during the meeting, Bill Quitmeier, acting as interim village attorney, criticized “the unnecessary presentation of such documents during a public meeting.” He suggested that the Rowlands were only presenting them during the meeting to “create a scene.”
Quitmeier served as attorney for one meeting after the board confirmed rumors that Scott Campbell resigned from his position as city attorney and municipal court prosecutor. He tendered his resignation Monday.
The Citizen attempted to contact Campbell at his law office Tuesday afternoon, but he could not be reached for comment.
The new village attorney, Rob Megraw of Kansas City, Mo. was unable to attend the meeting due to a schedule conflict and sent Quitmeier in his place. However, in an official statement, Megraw stood beside the police chief.
“The board has made it very clear to me that their No. 1 priority is the long-term best interests of the Village of Ferrelview and the safety of its citizens,” the statement reads. “In keeping with those ideals, each of them decidedly asserted that police chief Daniel Clayton is the best officer they have ever hired.
“They say that Clayton cares more about his job and the people he serves and puts in more hours than any single officer in their individual memories.”
After the meeting, Quitmeier answered some of the concerns brought forth by residents during the meeting, including an allegation from Dennis Rowland regarding the legitimacy of Baumann’s status as a trustee. He concluded during the meeting that Baumann was not a legitimate board member because Carr appointed him to fill a vacancy, and the lawyer cited a village ordinance dating back to 1953, which he believed prevented the chair from filling vacancies by appointment.
“If somebody leaves the board of trustees and creates a vacancy, the board appoints one until the next general election,” Quitmeier said after he presented a copy of the ordinance, which Rowland had cited during the meeting, to The Citizen. “That’s how it happens in every city.”
Rowland also dismissed previous concerns regarding money he was allegedly receiving from the municipal court clients he had represented last week, suggesting that he has doing his work free of charge.
“Some people think I’m inciting this, but I’m not,” Rowland said.
The lawyer stood by his previously stated concerns about Clayton, saying he “had spoken to a source with a substantial amount of credibility who warned him that Clayton may kill someone one day.” Rowland went as far as to theorize that Clayton may be using some type of performance enhancing drug, possibly steroids.
After the board meeting, Clayton denied any validity regarding the allegations.
“People have their personal opinions of how they view law enforcement,” Clayton said. “(The response from residents) is good and bad. Everything’s not factual, I can tell you that.”
Dennis Rowland criticized the board, as well as Clayton, for the officer’s tenure in Ferrelview. Rowland presented a civil suit Clayton filed against the City of Mosby in 2015. Clayton worked as a police officer for nearly a year and a half before being dismissed in October of 2014.
The Citizen obtained court records pertaining to that case and found that Clayton was suing the city for wrongful termination, claiming that he was fired due to racial discrimination. Clayton is African American.
In response to the wrongful termination charge, the city presented multiple instances of complaints city residents made against Clayton during his tenure.
“They didn’t do their research,” Rowland said of Ferrelview officials. “(The civil case) is public information. It’s on Casenet.”
Rowland suggested during the meeting that those complaints should have prevented the Village of Ferrelview from hiring Clayton in the first place. Although Carr said he was unaware of that specific lawsuit, he did say after the meeting that the process in hiring Clayton was legitimate.
Mike O’Connell, communications director for the Missouri Department of Public Safety, confirmed that Clayton’s policing license is still valid and has not been suspended. However, Missouri statute bars him from confirming or denying the existence of any investigations, past or present, launched against Clayton from the department’s affiliate in charge of investigating allegations of police misconduct.
Although O’Connell was unable to provide clarification to any questions of misconduct stemming from Clayton’s tenure in Mosby, he did offer his department’s services to any citizens who might have concerns about a law enforcement official. The Missouri Police Officer Standards and Training program investigates allegations of law enforcement wrongdoings and is available to hear possible issues.