Former Lawrenceburg police officer Clay Crouch was not fired for disciplinary reasons, The Anderson News has learned, but just what that reason is remains unclear.
In a termination letter obtained via an open records request, Mayor Sandy Goodlett told Crouch that the decision to end his employment with the city “is not disciplinary in nature,” although the actual explanation for firing Crouch was blacked out in the letter.
In responding to the newspaper’s open records request to view the letter, City Administrator Robbie Hume said parts of the letter were redacted, according to statute, to protect Crouch’s personal privacy, including medical information.
Crouch, a decorated police officer who was voted the city’s best during a poll of Anderson News readers last year, was released from his duties April 6 after having been on administrative leave since the end of last August.
In the letter, Goodlett said the police department is short-handed and needs to fill Crouch’s position.
Goodlett wrote that the police department has 12 “street” officers who are supposed to patrol the streets, but has three who are not available for duty. Goodlett wrote that those three positions need to be filled “as soon as possible,” and that it’s no longer possible to have Crouch on what is now unpaid leave.
“To hold open your position any longer would cause undue hardship to the City, and there exist no other positions within the Police Department for which you are qualified,” the letter states.
Crouch, who in 2015 returned fire and shot a suspect in the face during an incident on Ballard Road, had been on administrative leave since last August.
He was cleared by a grand jury of any wrongdoing soon after the shooting, and returned for work after three weeks of administrative leave, before being placed back on administrative leave Aug. 31, 2016.
The reason for that leave is not being disclosed.
During that incident, which included the suspect’s vehicle striking a Lawrenceburg man’s vehicle head on, Crouch reportedly shielded the man from gunfire before shooting back.
“He needs a medal,” said Jimmy Desponett, who credited Crouch for saving his life.
The suspect was later charged with attempted murder of a police officer and is scheduled to go to trial April 24 in Anderson Circuit Court.
It is unclear if Crouch will be called to testify during the trial.