North Myrtle Beach, SC - NORTH MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - During a grievance hearing Monday morning for William Bailey, City Manager John Smithson called the former public safety director a liar.
"Ladies and gentlemen, Mr. Bailey lied," Smithson said of Bailey's claim that a gun that was stolen was secured in a locked glove box. "And that action [the demotion] was taken because of that."
Since the December 2009 incident, Bailey has maintained that he never lied to anyone about the incident. Bailey claims he said the gun was secured in his vehicle, but not that it was locked in a glove box that did not have a lock.
During a 52-minute testimony, Bailey said Smithson did not make the decision to demote him from chief to lieutenant based on fact. Bailey says he told Smithson after the incident that he was ashamed that it occurred, but he never lied about it being locked in the glove box.
"I responded, 'I want to use the word secure,' [in a statement released to the press following the incident]," Bailey said. "[City spokeswoman Nicole Aiello's] response to me was, 'Locked is a stronger word.' My response back to her was, 'But secure protects me.'"
Smithson commented, "He stated that he was sorry that he lied, and stated that he was sorry that he put me and the city in such a position."
Aiello testified that Bailey told her the gun was locked.
Aiello was unable to comment on the differences in the testimonies, saying only that it is a personnel matter.
The grievance hearing ended shortly after 11 a.m. The committee has 20 days to make a recommendation to the city manager, which could be to terminate Bailey, reinstate him as chief or leave him the rank of lieutenant.
Smithson will make the final decision, which could be to accept their recommendation or make his own determination. His determination, according to the NMB personnel policy manual, would be final.
Bailey came under fire earlier in the year after a backup firearm was stolen from his car. Bailey told investigators it was locked in his glove compartment, but an investigation revealed the glove compartment in which it was stored did not have a lock.
Horry County Police were dispatched to Bailey's home after the director reported two of his personal vehicles had been broken into between 10 p.m. Dec. 27 and 8 a.m. Dec. 28. Bailey told police he became suspicious of criminal activity after noticing his truck, parked in his driveway, had been left unlocked throughout the night.
After opening the driver's side door of the truck, a police report states Bailey found papers thrown over the seats and the glove compartment and center console opened. A handgun stored in the glove compartment, Horry County Police say, was among the items taken from the vehicle.
Bailey later discovered his wife's car, parked inside of a garage, had also been tampered with. Items were strewn across the inside of the vehicle, but Bailey was unable to identify any stolen items.
Further questioning of Bailey's family revealed his son discovered what he calls a "suspicious man" in the neighborhood around 2:30 a.m. on Dec. 21. When Bailey's son pulled over his vehicle to question why the man was in the area, he said he was visiting his girlfriend.
The man then proceeded to reach into his camouflage backpack, for what Bailey's son presumed to be a gun, and drove off. Bailey's son told police he returned to his home, grabbed two baseball bats, and unsuccessfully attempted to track the unidentified man down.
North Myrtle Beach officials released a statement revealing Bailey had been placed on administrative leave after an investigation revealed Bailey's glove box did not have a lock on it. As stated in an incident report, Bailey's gun could not have been safely stored inside of his truck.