Former Lahoma Police Chief Files Lawsuit After KKK 'Prank' Incident

<p>A former police chief says he was fired after testifying about a Ku Klux Klan incident he investigated in Lahoma.&nbsp;</p>

Thursday, March 31st 2016, 10:02 pm

By: News 9

A former police chief says he was fired after testifying about a Ku Klux Klan incident he investigated in Lahoma.

The alleged Halloween prank included the mayor's husband. Now, the former chief is suing to get his job back.

Former Chief Matthew Hankins claims he was blindsided at the last town meeting, expecting to get a raise not a pink slip. He has now filed a federal lawsuit fighting to get his job back.

The picture of what appeared to be four Klansmen gathered around a bonfire with torches and a cross gained national attention last year. One of the men in that picture was the Lahoma mayor Theresa Sharp's husband.

11/1/15 Related Story: Disturbing Halloween KKK ‘Prank’ Has Lahoma Residents Upset

“I just don't condone it regardless of who it is,” said Mayor Theresa Sharp back in November.

“I'm embarrassed. I've shamed my family and friends and I apologize for that,” said Cary Sharp. "Sit around the bonfire and drink a couple of beers...the subject got brung up. We just thought it would be something to do."

But now the town's former police chief who investigated the incident, says the scandal is at the center of his wrongful termination.

Matthew Hankins' attorney believes the firing stemmed from a court hearing that Hankins testified in days before.

“He actually testified at a VPO hearing and one of the questions he was asked as he was testifying involved the issues that he saw,” said Chase McBride, Hankins’ Attorney.

The hearing was for another man pictured in the alleged KKK photo, Brian Hamen.

“Immediately after that hearing Brian Hamen actually wrote a report gave it to the mayor and we believe everything in the report is false and is solely in retaliation,” said McBride.

Hankins believes Mayor Sharp and Hamen conspired to get him fired. Five days after testifying, Hankins says he was let go and never given a cause.

“Basically for bringing up the incident again as he's testifying,” said McBride.

Hankins is now suing the town, Mayor Sharp and Brian Hamen for wrongful termination, retaliation, defamation and conspiracy.

He's asking for $75,000 in damages and most importantly to have his job back.

News 9 reached out to Mayor Sharp for comment, but the call wasn't returned.

No charges were ever filed from the incident.


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