Macon.com's Amy Leigh Womack is once again breaking news on the fake gunman prank uploaded to YouTube at Macon-Bibb County (GA) Fire Department Station 108 that resulted in one firefighter being fired and others being demoted. Reviewing documents received through an Open Records Act request, Womack is reporting that Chief Marvin Riggins initially gave Capt. Stephanie Burke minimal punishment of a two shift suspension despite the report of Capt. Tom Musselwhite investigating the incident that Burke had full knowledge of the prank ahead of time.
In an interview Chief Riggins told Womack, “I trusted my firefighters and my officers to tell me the truth.”
Reading Womack's article you get the indication that in reality Chief Riggins trusted only some of his officers. He believed Capt. Burke, but not Capt. Musselwhite.
Here's Burke's initial account:
In a Sept. 19 written statement, then-Capt. Burke said she had heard talk of firefighters playing a joke on a rookie at her Peake Road station. But when a masked gunman entered the station, she said, she was as surprised as the rookie.
“I ran to get away,” she wrote.
According to the article, Burke wrote she soon realized it was a joke that they were possibly playing on her. She apologized for not taking decisive action but “whatever my punishment is, just know I was not directly involved.”
So, that's what Chief Riggins believed, despite the person in charge of the investigation telling him otherwise. More from Womack:
Fire Capt. Tom Musselwhite wrote in his investigative report, dated Sept. 20, that in his opinion, all the firefighters involved in the prank were knowing participants except for the rookies.
Riggins admitted Wednesday that he didn’t believe Burke was a knowing participant in the hoax when he ordered her to be punished with two days of suspension while other firefighters involved in the video received punishments ranging from longer unpaid suspensions to demotion and termination.
It was only after additional evidence became public, showing a longer video and text messages reported to be from Burke, that the captain was demoted to lieutenant and given a two month suspension. Womack reports Lt. Burke will now be assigned to the Fire Prevention Division.
Also on STATter911 …
- Private parts: Sex prank at Houston fire station under investigation. – December 7, 2012
- News report: TV station says Miami-Dade Fire Rescue ‘did virtually nothing to discipline’ captain who went on tirade against videographer. Calls it a ‘cover up’. – June 5, 2013
- Arbitrator rules DC fire union prez unlawfully transferred by chief. Capt. Ed Smith says Kenneth Ellerbe ‘is about retaliation’. – October 30, 2012
- DC update: Fire investigators determined ambulance fires were accidental before deputy mayor called for police investigation. – August 18, 2013
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