Jay Wallace breaks his silence

Former deputy in 911 call scandal speaks out

Some might think it’s an odd thing for a lawman to say.

Especially one who has worn the badge for 33 years.

But Jay Wallace isn’t an officer of the law anymore. And he says the law-and-justice system is broken.

"It doesn’t work. You do not get justice out of the legal system anymore. There is no justice."

"I have never seen such a miscarriage of justice in my life. Especially with investigators who do not even deserve to wear the police uniform."

After losing his fight earlier this month to get his job at the Island County Sheriff's Office back, Wallace spirit appears broken , but he still doesn’t waver in maintaining his innocence. And he still says his termination by former Sheriff Mike Hawley was unjust.

Not that it matters much now, Wallace admits.

"There's nothing at this point I can do," he said. "My name is trounced."

"If you're ever fired, you're finished. Not only in police work, but who the hell is going to hire a dishonest cop?"

Scandal ignites

Wallace is the former deputy sheriff who lost his job for allegedly not properly responding to a 911 call, and he has spent two years at the center of the biggest scandal to hit the Island County Sheriff's Office in a generation.

The way it played in the papers in early February 2006: Deputy blows off a 911 call where a young woman is being held captive and sexually assaulted. She escapes the next day and calls police again from Freeland Park.

Wallace also happens to be a candidate in the running for county sheriff.

By all accounts, the scandal cost him a real chance at winning the sheriff's job as news story after story recounted the case — a young woman tied up to a staircase by a felon overnight in a vacation cabin near Freeland Hall.

Wallace was fired but he continued his campaign as a candidate, lost, and was charged with lying by the state Attorney General's Office — a court case that Wallace won almost a year to the day the scandal started.

And earlier this month, Wallace lost his marathon effort to get his job back. He fought for nearly two years to regain his job as a sheriff's deputy. But an arbitrator ruled April 8 that Hawley was justified when he said Wallace shirked his duty and fired him when he didn’t go to the Freeland home after a second 911 call came in.

Wallace claims he was misled to believe that the dispute was resolved during the arbitration meeting Oct. 16 that also had a mediation portion. He also said the only thing that was still in the air was an agreement about money.

At some point, the sheriff's office supposedly offered $20,000 to settle the case.

"If they would have given me my job back, I probably would have settled," Wallace said.

He also said the arbitrator showed no interest in the evidence and witnesses that Wallace presented.

If that's what happened in the closed-door meeting, it will be a secret among those who were there.

Gary Axon, the Oregon-based arbitrator who decided the case, refused to talk about the details of the hearing.

"The arbitration report has to speak for itself," Axon said earlier this week.

Hawley also declined to comment.

"There's nothing here I would really care to respond to; it’s the same old, same old," Hawley said.

"The facts have spoken, it's time to move on."

Wallace, who was prohibited from talking about the 911 case by Hawley when it first grabbed headlines, and later by his union attorney, has spoken just a few times about the 911 case.

After the recent arbitration decision in the case, Wallace spoke exclusively with The Record about the events of that night and how they have changed his life since.

Wallace recounted the events of the night of the 911 call controversy, and how it destroyed his career.

While he covered familiar ground at times — repeating his oft-made claim that he was the target of a political hatchet job by Hawley, who didn’t want to see him become sheriff, that he initially misspoke when he told investigators what happened at the Freeland cabin, and that the investigation into the alleged crimes at the home was mishandled — Wallace offered a new, more detailed defense of his actions the night his career ended, and of the evidence that supported his version of events.

End of a career

The scandal ended a 33-year career in law enforcement.

Wallace wasn't thinking about a career as a cop when he got out of high school; he went into the Air Force and became a jet mechanic for the Republic F-105 Thunderchief, a jet fighter-bomber that was a workhorse during the Vietnam War. He thought about taking a job with the phone company after he got out.

A visit by his uncle, who was on his way home from a vacation, changed his mind.

Wallace remembered he was at his grandmother's, when his uncle came by, and then mentioned he had a bunch of things in the back of his station wagon.

"I looked out the window as he was talking about, 'Oh man, I’ve got a lot of stuff in there, I'm afraid somebody might rip it off.' I looked out there and there’s two people ripping it off."

He ran downstairs and jumped across the hood of his 1959 Chevrolet.

He gave chase, caught the guy and held him until the police came. One of the officers gave Wallace some simple advice. "You ought to be a cop."

Wallace, then 23, started studying, and joined the force when he was 27.

He was assigned to the Ingleside police station, in an outlying area of San Francisco, and soon joined a four-man car; two rookies and two veterans.

"Talk about blowing a young guy's mind away," Wallace said.

"We saw the worst. The high-speed chases, the shooting out of the cars, auto accidents; whatever you could think of. When you watch 'Dirty Harry,' that’s what we did."

He served with the San Francisco Police Department from 1969, earning more than a hundred department commendations during the time. He also earned two Medals of Valor.

Wallace spent 10 years as a street cop, and can recall some scary moments.

Once, eight months into the job, when they drove by a family party and a very large man was beating up a very little man.

Wallace's partner tried to speak Spanish, when the fighter turned around and knocked him down. Wallace said he threw a headlock on the man and tried to bounce his head off the headlights of the patrol car on the way to the pavement.

Wallace missed. Others didn't.

"When we hit the ground, seven or eight people jumped on top," he said. "They split the back of my head open and I figured I was dead."

He woke up amid the shootout, and got back to the patrol car where he called for help and got his back-up gun and returned fire.

"I dropped the hammer on him three times.

"They removed a lot of intestines, but he lived. And so did I," Wallace added.

"That was my first introduction to real police work."

Wallace never expected that a warm-line 911 in 2006 call would end his career when he went to Freeland that night.

"When this night came, it was like any other night," he said.

Missing pieces

Wallace said the evidence that was collected — some of it ignored at the time, some of it not made available to him when he was fighting to get his job back — fits his version of events.

He also said the reason the case against Matthew Friar, the man accused of assaulting and raping a woman in Freeland, fell apart did not seem to matter.

The victim and the core witness in the case, Victoria Walker, disappeared and didn't testify in either Friar's or Wallace's case.

The Record tried to reach Walker in Bellingham, but she did not return phone calls for comment.

But Wallace said there is ample evidence to prove his version of the events.

One audible example is the tape recordings made when Walker, the woman who claimed she was assaulted and held captive at a Freeland cabin, called 911 the morning of Feb. 8.

"Nobody's listened to the tapes," Wallace said.

They show, for example, that Walker only complained of a sore shoulder when first asked about her condition. And she doesn't seem afraid of going back to the cabin. That doesn't make sense, Wallace said.

"She wants to get back into the house. In my career, I never met a woman who was raped and kidnapped who wanted to get back into the house where the guy that raped and kidnapped her was," he said.

Wallace said Walker also lied when she told the 911 dispatcher that it was her home. He also said she was coaxed into claiming she was sexually assaulted.

"'Were you sexually assaulted?' No comment," Wallace recounted the recording on the 911 tape. "A little time lapse. 'Were you sexually assaulted?' And then you can almost hear her think. 'Yes.' 'You were raped?'"

Despite physical evidence of bruises on her body, Wallace said she was never in any danger.

"There was never a crime at that residence," Wallace said.

He added that her response was typical in a domestic argument, where one person wants the other taken away.

"She was trying to get the damn apartment," he said.

The incident turned bad for him when the high-profile case hit the newspapers.

Wallace said reaction to the story forced the sheriff's hand.

"Mike Hawley cut his own throat. And then he had to run with it," Wallace said. "Because Mike Hawley came out and stated this big thing about this woman being raped."

The case was tainted from the start, Wallace said. The dispatcher who took the third 911 call was the wife of the future sheriff, and another detective who worked on the case supported that candidate's campaign.

Politics blamed

Wallace, who joined the Island County Sheriff's Office as a deputy in 1995, said politics were a leading factor in the way the investigation was conducted.

He said he decided to run for the job of sheriff in 2005 — Hawley decided against seeking another term — and was the second man to jump into what would become a four-man race.

Soon after it became known in the department that he was a contender to replace the sheriff, Hawley initiated "counseling" on how to respond to 911 calls — the first disciplinary action in Wallace's 10-year career at the sheriff's office.

Wallace said the claims made by the sheriff's office at the time had no substance.

Wallace has long said that his demise in the department was due to Hawley's political machinations. The 2005 counseling session was a first step to get rid of him.

"I ran for sheriff to straighten things out," Wallace said. "I didn’t know the political machine up here was so powerful."

Wallace ran for Island County Sheriff against three other Republicans: Mark Brown, William Dennis and Lenny Marlborough.

When he received just one vote during the county's GOP convention in April 2006, he jumped ship. Surprising for Island County Democrats, Wallace filed his candidacy as a Democrat on June 23.

Why did he ever stay in the race for sheriff? People shouted at him at public forums about the charges.

"Why did I chase an armed suspect down a dark alley by myself in the middle of the night and take his gun away from him? Why did I kick the door in and take a shotgun away from a guy who was going to kill his whole family? I don't turn around and I don’t run. When somebody shoots at me, I go after them. Because they are going to kill someone else. That was my job. And I’ve done it for 33 years.

"I was never going to run away from anybody. I don’t believe in bullies," he added.

Wallace insists he wanted to improve the sheriff's office, to fix morale and train deputies to be better. It would have been a drastic difference from the status quo, he said.

"Supervision up here is trying to find fault with your employee, bring him up on charges and spank him and fire him," Wallace said.

"If you don’t have camaraderie, you don't have a police department. The object of a supervisor is quite simple; it is to train a subordinate in order to obtain your position," he said. "From the time a guy raises his hand and takes the oath, you give him the best training you can."

The statement

It became his statement about the 911 incident that became a stumbling block for Wallace in the end.

At least three first-hand versions of the incident exist; from those who were in the cabin, and the man who went to the cabin. And then there's the version that was reconstructed by an internal police investigation.

Some versions follow the same storyline: A woman was held against her will, called 911 twice for help, the police came to the scene for the first call, but not the second one, the woman escaped the next morning and called the cops on a stranger's cellphone.

The woman who was allegedly held captive later told police she was tied up to a set of pull-down stairs by a boyfriend who brought her over to stay at his family's cabin while he jumped bail from the Bellingham police. He assaulted her throughout the night, she said, until she escaped the next day.

Friar, the boyfriend, told police that Walker went crazy in the middle of the night with a knife and tried to attack him. He was verbally abusive toward officers and not willing to go into detail.

Wallace, the officer who got the call to go to the cabin on Shoreview Drive, said he drove up and looked in the front window and saw a naked woman putting on a pair of jeans. She wouldn't come to the door, and he left after talking to a neighbor. When a second 911 call came in from the same home, he called a 911 dispatcher to say there was no problem at the home, but never went to go check.

His statement about seeing a woman in the home led to his firing.

Officials said there were discrepancies between his written report and his statements to dispatchers — where he mentioned seeing a man — and his later comments.

Wallace said two versions of the night matched: his and the one given by somebody in the home.

He remembered what he saw after his patrol car came up the long, 180-foot driveway to the home, his patrol car "lit up like a Christmas tree" and the cabin was "lit up like a Roman candle" by his spotlight.

Wallace went to the living room window, and announced he was with the sheriff's office. He looked inside and saw a naked woman run into the room, try to pull on pants, and run to the back of the house.

"The girl was coming toward me. I didn't see her pick up the pair of pants. But she had a pair of pants that looked like kid's pants, I couldn’t believe she was getting in them. I couldn't believe she could get her leg in them. But she had her left leg half in, and she was bouncing around, trying to pull it up.

"I knocked on the window to let her know I was there. Because she was indecent, she didn’t have a top on, she ignored everything I did. And then I hollered 'Police!' and pounded on the window again, she managed to get the pants on. She came towards me. There was a door right there, that she could have left.

"She saw that I was a cop; she reached down and grabbed a couple clothing items," he said, then ran away.

But Wallace said he also knows that a bra and panties were found near where he saw the woman. If investigators had been doing their job, he said, that evidence could have backed up his version of events.

"Right where I said she was getting dressed, they found … the bra and the panties."

When he was fired, Wallace was criticized by higher-ups for not contacting the woman in the home. Wallace disputes that.

"She looked at me. We made eye contact, which is contact."

He said it was ridiculous that the sheriff has maintained that physical contact with the woman was needed.

But since the 911 call was a "warm line call" — one where nothing is heard and dispatchers assume it's from a mechanical malfunction or some other cause — Wallace said it didn’t dictate the same response as a known emergency.

"If it was a 911, yeah. But you have to see a crime. If there's no crime, you can't kick a door in. Unless we're back in England again in the 18th century."

The woman looked like she had been "partying," but there was no problem, he said.

"She looked like a hype," he said.

"It looked like she was having her little own party there. Beautiful fireplace, there was a green bottle of wine. Every place was as neat as a pin. There was no signs of any disruption whatsoever."

Another thought crossed his mind when she ran out of the room, Wallace added. He thought he had misjudged the situation.

"I waited there for a few minutes, thinking she was embarrassed; she's putting on her top and then she'll come out.

"Then, the thing hit me, 'You stupid idiot.' She could have broken into the place, then had a little party and then took off. And I stood there and watched a burglar run away from me. And after 33 years, that would have been embarrassing."

When she didn't come back to the front of the house, Wallace walked around it a few times, pounding on a porch window and yelling.

"If somebody was in distress, all they would have had to do was say help."

Wallace said officers use discretion when they answer a warm-line call.

"You're not going to kick a door down every time that a rat gnaws on a phone line," he said, recalling how he also talked to a neighbor and no one had heard any noise.

Wallace said the suspect in the case — Friar, a 26-year-old wanted by Bellingham police — was probably telling the police the truth about what happened.

"I think her shoulder was hurt because he pushed her out, because she was flipping out because she had taken drugs the night before."

What he saw, he said, did not justify a forced entry. If he had busted his way in, he would have violated her civil rights, he said, and it would have been Wallace going to jail.

"There is no way, when I went out there, that I could have gained entry.

"What crime was being done? Can you imagine, kicking a door in and chasing a half-naked woman into a back bedroom? What would you guys do if you got a report of a cop who went out on some sort of phony call or a phone line … I mean, I would be wearing a jumpsuit."

His repeated statements that he saw a "he" in the house, however, made him the subject of an internal investigation and an external probe. Wallace said he misspoke because the neighbor's complaints about Friar — that he was stealing cigarette butts to smoke and riding his bike across her lawn — stuck in his mind because she was so angry.

"How I ever said 'guy,' I don’t know. I don't know. I probably take that into the grave."

"It ruined a 33-year career. Even though I misspoke...the career is gone. I'll never work as a police officer again," he said, adding that no one would hire a policeman is labeled a liar.

"You can't testify in court once you're branded that. So, consequently, what good are you? You go out and make an arrest and you say, 'Yeah, I found a gun in his back pocket.'

"They would say, we'd like to have his testimony expunged because, for the simple fact, he was once proven a liar."

Wallace’s witness

If only his wife could have spoken on his behalf, Wallace said. Lana Wallace could have verified his story.

He mentioned to his wife he had seen a girl at the earlier call, then cut lunch short to help out another officer on a call. He said he started to take his gun belt off; then thought that [Deputy] John [Sawyers] was going to a warm call that could turn into a 911 and he wouldn't be able to call the State Patrol for backup.

"When I realized that, I told Lana, gotta go, gotta go. John's by himself."

His wife clearly recalled his shortened lunch break. She remembered it was one of the few times she had all the fixings for his favorite kind of sandwich; a ham-and-cheese.

"I just cut it and he was already leaving," she said. "I stuck half the sandwich in his mouth, wrapped a plate, grabbed a coke out and chased him out the door."

She said she was in the room when he called the 911 center and told them not to worry about the second 911 call, that he had seen a man at the place earlier who ran to put on his pants, but wouldn't answer the door.

"I don't know why he misspoke either but he misspoke right in front of me," she said.

The arbitrator did not admit her as a witness in the case.

Wallace wasn't fired for just saying "he" instead of "she," however.

Authorities also said he was untruthful. According to the findings of the internal investigation, Wallace said he falsely claimed to be assisting another officer at a different call when asked why he didn't respond again to the Freeland cabin.

Wallace said he did respond to the other call, one where he provided back-up to Deputy Sawyers, but did not insert himself into the middle of the police response. Instead, he hung back, he said. With deputies stretched thin, that means not going where you may not be needed.

"I don’t go out unless called. But I will go out within a minute of where something's coming down.

"I’m not going to go out and hold their hand. I mean, they're big boys. They're trained, if they see a problem: Alert me, I'm there within a heartbeat," he said.

Wallace said when he left his house to assist Sawyers, he thought he had time to go down Classic Road and check on a prior call. Then he said he went down Mutiny Bay Road and pulled over to the right.

"I figured he was going to be coming down Bush Point Road and I would meet him, because you had to go through that location. I stayed there for over five minutes and he didn't come, and I figured, I probably missed him."

"I stayed there and waited to make sure there was no crime," he added.

He waited until he thought 30 minutes or so had passed, then he went to check on the scene of an earlier call of a commercial burglary at the Clinton Library.

He walked around the library again but there were no signs of mischief.

"When this night came along, it was like any other night. I was busy. John was working and he was due to be off, and I was trying to back him up the best way I could, and do the best thing that I could," Wallace said, adding that he spent a lot of time at the Freeland cabin during the first 911 call, even though it did not seem to be an emergency.

"Normally, I would not spend 16 to 20 minutes out there at a deal like this, but I wanted to make sure everything was alright."

Wallace said when he made contact with the woman after the first call, she didn't seem to be in any trouble.

"When I saw that girl, there was nothing wrong with her at all. I didn't see any bruises. She looked like she had a nice tan and she was a fairly nice-looking girl."

He said her first comments to police the following day should have thrown up red flags for investigators.

"How many rape victims, kidnap victims, want to get back into the house? It's so absolutely astonishing it's pathetic. It just doesn't happen, unless I'm on a different planet," he said.

First on the scene

Deputy Frank Gomez was the first to arrive at Freeland Park the morning after Walker escaped, according to police records of the case.

Walker was in the back of an ambulance. According to Gomez' report, she was very upset; crying, sobbing and constantly looking out of the ambulance as if someone unwanted was coming.

Walker told the deputy that she came to Whidbey with Friar a few days earlier so Friar could avoid arrest on a warrant, Walker said.

The night before, they had been drinking and things go out of control after they argued. Friar became violent and started hitting her and pushing her around. He then tied her up with some bed sheets to a ladder in the cabin so she wouldn't leave.

She said she called 911, but when police came, Friar put her in a closet "and told her if she made a sound she would get hers."

Gomez asked her about the sexual assault claim made during the last 911 call, but Walker said she didn't want to talk about it. Gomez told her that Det. Susan Quandt would meet her at the hospital.

Walker said Friar was still asleep in the cabin, but had a gun. Gomez called Deputy Rick Felici and Det. Mark Plumberg to go to the home.

Felici got there about noon; Plumberg, 10 minutes later. They decided that Plumberg, dressed in civilian clothes, would go to the door and knock while Felici and Gomez waited around the side of the house.

Plumberg knocked on the front door but nobody answered.

When he got to the back door and knocked, the door popped open, and a few minutes later, Friar walked out onto the rear deck.

"Who the hell are you?" Friar asked Plumberg.

The detective asked him to take his hands out of his pockets as Gomez came around the corner and put him in handcuffs.

Friar got angry and fast, according to police reports. "That crazy bitch woke up in the middle of the night and went crazy and I’m the one getting arrested?" Friar shouted.

Plumberg said Friar looked like he was out of it. His speech was slurred, and he was barefoot and drooling. When Gomez started to read Friar his Miranda rights, Friar yelled racial slurs at the deputy and also became belligerent with Plumberg and Felici.

Gomez asked if he wanted to say anything about what happened.

"Nothing happened," Friar said.

Gomez put him in his patrol car and started driving to Coupeville. In his report of the incident, Gomez said Friar began kicking the metal partition between the front and back seats of the patrol car, and then the door. The deputy stopped on the side of Highway 525 to warn him he would be charged if he damaged the patrol car.

Friar was then taken to the jail to be booked on the felony warrant out of Bremerton.

Friar was charged with three counts on Feb. 13, 2006; unlawful imprisonment, harassment with threats to kill and fourth-degree domestic violence assault. He faced between four months to a year in jail on each count.

The case against Friar began to crumble when Walker disappeared, however. Later that month, Island County Prosecutor Greg Banks dismissed the case and said it would not be refiled.

Investigation heats up

Meanwhile, the investigation against Wallace was picking up steam.

Hawley had asked the Oak Harbor Police Department for an independent review of Wallace, in addition to the ongoing internal investigation that was underway. In early March 2006, Baker signed off on his investigation and turned it over to the county prosecutor's office, and the state Attorney General's Office was brought in to take the case to avoid any claims of conflict.

Wallace said he knew early on the focus had shifted to him. He recalled approaching Jan Smith, Hawley's top administrator, at a Republican Party gathering the night after he had read the news report of a woman being held captive in the Freeland cabin. Wallace told Smith the arrest was violating Friar's civil rights, and that no crime had occurred.

"I explained to her that the guy we had in jail was illegally arrested. I said you violated his Eighth Amendment rights and his 14th Amendment rights. I said you gotta release the charges.

"That's when they started running rampant. Because at that point, it blew their whole case out of the water. And they called everybody immediately, and they came after me with a vengeance," Wallace said.

"But if I would have walked away from it, I'd have lied to myself, number one. Number two is the simple fact that this guy would have went to jail on false charges. And I couldn't allow that to happen to him. I took an oath against that.

"I stood up for the guy's rights. He was not responsible, and all you have there was a simple little domestic [dispute]. And she wasn't going to answer the door because they were doing drugs and booze, and they were having a party. I saw her, and I didn’t see him. If I had testified any other way, he could have went to jail and he had no other witnesses other than me.

"I kept a man out of jail on charges that shouldn't have been filed, and I told the truth and it was all substantiated in factual evidence. And for that, I lost my career."

Doubts arise

Wallace said key evidence that supported his side was ignored.

An investigator talked to a neighbor, Michael Andersen, who cast doubt on Walker's story, Wallace said. Andersen was the caretaker of the cabin, and was an adopted uncle of sorts for the family that owned the home at 1480 Shoreview Drive.

Det. Plumberg's interview notes show Andersen was skeptical of the woman's story. She had gathered up a bag of her things to leave the cabin and put them outside, he noted. How could she do that if she was tied up? Andersen said she had also come over the day of the first 911 call to borrow cigarettes, and seemed OK.

Andersen had also went inside the house with Plumberg the afternoon of Feb. 8, before police had obtained a search warrant for the home. They looked around as Plumberg took photographs, and Plumberg's report notes that they found a bra on the living room floor. Andersen put it in a plastic bag and gave it to Plumberg so he could return it to Walker.

Wallace said photographs of the woman’s undergarments in the front room would have collaborated his story of seeing a woman in the cabin the night of the first 911 call.

He said investigators didn’t adequately interview neighbors who lived nearby in the days that followed. Likewise, no one took into account the 180-foot-long driveway, which would have given anyone in the home plenty of time to see Wallace as he drove up to the cabin with his police lights on. He faulted the independent investigation done by Baker, who Wallace said simply took his written statement and other limited bits of information to other limited bits of information to build his case of what happened.

"Baker did no investigation, absolutely. He took what I wrote and actually filed charges against me. Never even went out and took a statement from the woman in the back. What he did was call her on the phone, asked her explicit questions, got what he wanted, and sent the detective over to get her statement. Nobody really interviewed her and asked the hard questions. Nobody showed that the driveway was 180 feet."

"The driveway is the key," he said.

"The kid was telling the truth. He saw the police car and he ran to the back of the house. The girl was alerted and it gave her time to come out and run right directly into me."

"The driveway, 180 feet, the uncle Andersen, the panties and the bra, all of this stuff was hidden. The witness in the rear was never really adequately interviewed."

Wallace said the county asked for a six-month extension to the arbitration case so they could bring Walker in to testify. It never happened.

"They didn't produce any evidence. They didn't produce any girl or anything. The [county] had no witnesses, no evidence; and we had four witnesses and evidence," he said.

"I was never interviewed. She [his wife] was never interviewed. John [Sawyers] was never interviewed by Burns. And the interview he had with Baker was loaded. Baker had one deal in mind and that was trying to prosecute me. And so did Hawley," Wallace said.

Life goes on

There is no shortage of drama when describing the past two year's of Wallace’s life.

He ran for sheriff, had to change parties after the 911 controversy erupted and his party abandoned him; he had a heart attack, his brother died of heart failure. He beat the state on the trial that accused him of being a liar, but finally lost his fight to get his job back earlier this month.

Wallace recounted how he found out that the 911 calls from his shift had mushroomed into a dark cloud.

He was out walking his dogs when he started back up toward the house and saw a police car in the driveway.

It was Tingstad, Wallace’s supervisor.

"He hands me this thing and says, 'This is a complaint.' And I says, 'OK.' And he says, 'This is serious.'

"And I says, 'Alright.'

"And he says: This isn't from me. This is straight from the boss."

Wallace said OK, put it under his arm, thanked him for it, and said he would talk to him later. He said he put it on the shelf because he thought he knew what it was: His response to a burglary-in-progress call a few nights before.

On that call, Wallace said he met a man doing clean-up work who refused to give his ID when asked. When he told the man — Wallace said he looked like a lawyer — he would end up in the patrol car while his identity was sorted out because his name wasn't on the lease, the man became angry.

Then he read the Saturday paper that detailed an assault on Walker. Then Wallace read the letter that had been dropped off. It told him he was the focus of an internal investigation into the 911 calls.

"It was so derogatory. I think I had a stroke," he said. "I couldn’t remember anything. I couldn’t think of anything."

Short-lived win

One of the high points came late last year. Wallace thought he was going to win the fight to get his job back, he said, when the arbitrator came back into the room to say all the charges had been thrown off the table. The subject, Wallace recalled, should center on the amount of money he would get paid.

Wallace had wanted more than $150,000 in back pay. When the arbitrator's decision came down a few months later, however, he had swung the other way and said Wallace would get nothing.

Wallace said there is little he can do now. The arbitrator's decision was final, he said, and has put a lawsuit against the county out of the question.

Even so, Wallace said he has told the truth about what happened the night of the 911 incident.

"I learned a long time ago, if you lie ... you are going to get nailed. There is no way you can perpetuate a lie," he said.

"I’ve been living with this man for 44 years. He's an honorable man," his wife added.

"He didn't lie about that night. He would never lie, even if the worst happened and he had to take the blow for it. He's just that kind of guy," she said.

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