GUTHRIE, Okla. – A fight has been going on for more than three years now.
Lt. Mark Bruning was fired from the Guthrie Police Department after arresting his then girlfriend’s ex-husband for public intoxication at a Mumford & Sons concert.
Bruning arrested Kyle White despite an Incident Action Plan issued by the Chief of Police directing officers to make arrests only as a last resort.
Charges against White were eventually dropped, and Bruning was fired because of his actions.
Because Bruning is part of the police union, an independent arbitrator was brought in to review the situation.
That arbitrator found both parties were at fault in the matter, Bruning for exercising poor judgement and abuse of power and the city for having an unacceptable bias against Bruning during the investigation.
He concluded Bruning should not have been fired but, instead, suspended for six months without pay and then fully reinstated.
“He found that I did wrong and that both parties did wrong. I accept that. I’m ready to move on and get it behind me,” Bruning said.
But, the decision has been tied up in legal wranglings.
The city first appealed to district court and then to the appellate court.
Both courts have upheld the arbitrator’s decision.
“They keep coming up with the same resolution is put this behind you guys and move on and, for whatever reason, the forces that be in Guthrie keep just ramming it down the taxpayers throat that we are going to fight this,” said Bruning’s attorney, Scott Adams.
Adams said he offered to waive his fees after the arbitrator’s decision.
But, because the city has decided to fight, he said between pay owed to Bruning and attorney fees, the city is out between $400,000 to $500,000.
“We keep having to go to court. We keep winning. I don’t know what else we can do. It continues to be a slaughter for them, but then they just keep sitting up there and throwing away the taxpayers’ money like it’s a joke,” Adams said.
“I have no ill will towards the city of Guthrie,” Bruning said.
Bruning said he wants to return to the force and finish out his law enforcement career in the city he loves.
“I love law enforcement. I started in Guthrie when I was 20. I want to end in Guthrie. I’m from Guthrie. I grew up there, have family there,” Bruning said.
Some Guthrie residents want Bruning back on the force, and some don’t.
But, most we spoke with on Monday afternoon said they want to see the situation come to an end.
The city could still appeal to the Oklahoma Supreme Court.
We tried several times to get in touch with Guthrie city officials, but no one returned our calls.
The attorney working for the city told us they had not authorized him to give a statement.