Tulsa officer cleared of stealing money from man he arrested

Saturday, April 7th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

TULSA, Okla. (AP) _ A Tulsa police officer who has been reinstated after being fired last year says he knew the truth would surface.

Officer Brian C. Wilson, who was accused of stealing from a convicted felon during an arrest, maintained his innocence throughout the 14-month ordeal. He said he never stopped believing he would win his job back.

``My belief is that if you didn't do anything wrong, there is nothing but hope for you,'' he said.

Wilson, 30, was notified Thursday that he had been cleared of wrongdoing and that an arbitrator had ruled he should be allowed to return to work. He was accused of stealing $300 from a man he arrested Nov. 28, 1999, during a domestic violence call.

Police Chief Ron Palmer fired Wilson on Feb. 3, 2000, following an internal investigation into the alleged violation of department rules and regulations.

Wilson says he was ``pleased with the outcome of the case'' and would return to work, but that he initially felt ``betrayed'' and ``ill'' because he was treated like a thief.

``Some days I didn't even have words for it,'' he said.

Fraternal Order of Police President Bob Jackson said it was unsettling that the police chief took the word of a convicted felon over Wilson's.

``There is the stigma of being accused of being a thief,'' he said. ``It will take time to repair that reputation.''

Norman Bennett, the arbitrator, said the city did not provide any credible evidence to satisfy the required burden of proof to fire an officer. Tulsa officials gave no explanation for discrepancies found in evidence during the arbitration, she said.

Bennett was appointed as part of a collective bargaining agreement with the FOP and the city of Tulsa.

Wilson will not be paid for the 14 months he wasn't working for the department. He will receive police service credit for those months, but will have to renew his qualifications, including firearms, before returning to the force, Jackson said.

The allegations against Wilson never were presented for criminal prosecution.