Court documents allege cover-up in Ralls 911 building shooting
Fri, 01 Nov 2013 22:01:51 GMT —
A Ralls County investigator recommended that three former 911 employees face criminal charges in an investigation related to a 2012 shooting inside the county's dispatch center, according to documents obtained by KHQA.
Details of the incident have remained under wraps since a special prosecutor was appointed in July of this year to examine the year-old incident. The investigation was also spurred by the sudden resignation of former 911 director Laurie Means.
According to the documents:
Ralls County Deputy Richard Adair interviewed former 911 dispatcher Janis Caldwell June 9, 2013, During the interview she detailed how fellow former 911dispatchers Jared LaForce and Steven McLaine, along with Means, covered up what appeared to be a shooting inside the dispatch building.
Caldwell said LaForce had a habit of bringing firearms to work. On one occasion she witnessed him shoot a skunk in the dispatch center parking lot.
Later, she noticed that a prominently displayed mirror inside the building went missing. She brought it to Means' attention, but was told that it wasn't a problem.
Caldwell and other employees reviewed surveillance footage from inside the building. In the video during the night in question, Caldwell noticed that the mirror suddenly cracked about 4:50 a.m. LaForce and McLaine approached the mirror. Means was seen examining the mirror.
She took the mirror to the dumpster as the two men cleaned up drywall. Means left the building and returned with drywall spackle and filled in a small hole. Means fixed the hole by 6 a.m.
Caldwell said she noticed LaForce leave after his shift ended with a bag that he normally used to store his guns. Caldwell again brought her concerns to Means who assured her that the issue was dealt with.
Caldwell told two Ralls County 911 board members that she intended to attend an upcoming board meeting to discuss what she saw on the video.
Means called Caldwell several times and confronted her saying that she shouldn't attend the meeting. Means also scheduled Caldwell to work the night of the meeting.
A week before she was scheduled to meet with board members, the surveillance video disappeared. Caldwell told investigators that Means asked LaForce to rewire the building's security system so that only the director could view the video.
Caldwell eventually gave a statement to the board via speaker phone during her shift at the 911 center. The board voted to place LaForce on paid suspension and to forward the investigation to the Missouri Highway Patrol's Division of Drug and Crime Control. Two days later LaForce resigned.
During the investigation, Adair interviewed three other 911 dispatchers who said that they watched the now missing 911 video. Their accounts of what took place on the video matched Caldwell's.
For bringing the matter to the board, Caldwell said Means refused to put her on the schedule and was unofficially fired from her position.
Deputies interviewed McClain on May 31. He recalled the incident where LaForce shot the skunk, but denied that a shooting ever took place inside the building.
Adair met with LaForce on June 3. LaForce denied all of the allegations and walked out of the meeting.
Means refused to meet with investigators. She resigned her post June 18.
Adair recommended that all three face criminal charges including felony and misdemeanors. None of them have been indicted as of today.
In the wake of her resignation and the allegations, the board appointed Marion County 911 director Mike Hall to oversee the Ralls County operation.
The board voted in July to dismiss the remaining 911 employees.
LaForce is also accused of using his position as a 911 dispatcher on two occasions to alert relatives of their respective roles in two police investigations.
According to court documents, on May 18, 2012, James Kelley told a New London police officer that his half-brother worked at the 911 and was told that police were planning to kick in his doors.
Similarly, on June 9, 2012, police were searching for another of LaForce's relatives. During a traffic stop they were told that the relative fled after receiving a text message. Caldwell told investigators that she witnessed LaForce sending text messages as the incident was dispatched.
LaForce could face additional charges.
Ralls County residents will vote on a sales tax this Tuesday at a rate not to exceed 1 percent for the purpose of providing central dispatching of fire protection and emergency ambulance service.