PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — The Oregon Department of Justice found insufficient evidence to file a criminal case against a sheriff based on complaints that he destroyed public records and issued concealed handgun licenses to out-of-state residents.
Residents filed 11 complaints about Grant County Sheriff Glenn Palmer that raised alarms about Palmer’s association with leaders of the armed occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.
Oregon’s Department of Public Safety Standards and Training Director Eriks Gabliks said the agency has not decided yet whether to do a broader administrative inquiry of the complaints, The Oregonian/OregonLive reported .
Justice investigators reviewed complaints submitted from the state public safety agency, interviewed members of the Sheriff’s Office and the John Day Police Department, reviewed records and policies, examined Palmer’s training records and “forensically reconstructed shredded documents,” as well as a lawsuit The Oregonian/OregonLive brought against the Sheriff’s Office, said Michael J. Slauson, chief counsel for the Justice Department.
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The department issued two main findings: There was insufficient evidence to prove that Palmer destroyed public records and there was no evidence that Palmer violated state law on issuing concealed handgun licenses, Slauson wrote in a letter to the Grant County district attorney.
John Day Police Chief Richard Gray was among those who filed complaints with the state against Palmer. Gray cited concerns about Palmer’s close involvement with the leaders of the refuge takeover in early 2016. He provided the state with social media posts revealing Palmer’s support for the militia and when Palmer was seen meeting with some of the occupiers that January.
Gray also alleged Palmer had deleted a public document from a sheriff’s records management system that John Day police share with the Grant County Sheriff’s Office. The deleted report had accused Gray of going through Palmer’s office looking for reports stashed in a closet during an election campaign for sheriff in 2012.
Palmer’s lawyers responded to Gray’s complaint with a statement, saying Palmer followed state law.
“Although the electronic copy of the incident report was deleted, Sheriff Palmer retained hard copies of the initial report and final report in the records of Grant County Sheriff’s Office, where these public records have always been available for inspection and copying by the public, representatives of the press, the Department of Justice, and the (police licensing agency), as required by Oregon’s public records laws,” the statement said.
Information from: The Oregonian/OregonLive, http://www.oregonlive.com