Officer dismissed following Dabo Swinney speeding ticket speaks out
CLEMSON –Michael McClatchy held a press conference Thursday to discuss what he claims was an unjust termination from the Pickens police force, a firing which followed the speeding ticket he issued to Clemson football coach Dabo Swinney earlier this month.
Pickens Police Chief Rodney Gregory said McClatchy acted appropriately for issuing Swinney a citation on Sept. 3 when he clocked Swinney driving at 65 mph in a 35 mph zone, but was let go for using a police department computer to file his account of the events on a South Carolina Gamecocks message board.
McClatchy said he decided to post on the internet message board after reading several “inaccurate” internet accounts of the incident. McClatchy said he alerted Gregory of his intention to write the post. McClatchy said he wrote the post at his residence and only edited the post at work.
McClatchy pulled Swinney over in a Bi-Lo grocery store parking lot Sept. 3 where Swinney was running late for his weekly radio show. He was fired on Sept. 17 after posting his account.
“(Swinney) notified me he was running late,” McClatchy said. “Swinney and his brother refused to comply with my request to have a seat in their vehicle. I was approached by Bi-Lo store manager who informed me that the mayor of Pickens was on the phone and would like to speak with me. I declined call because I was on a traffic call. I gave Swinney a reduced citation.”
McClatchy said Swinney called Gregory the night of the citation and Swinney also wrote the Pickens police chief a letter.
“Chief Gregory informed me that Mr. Dabo Swinney called him at his residence at 9 p.m. the night of the traffic stop,” McClatchy said. “He also informed me that Dabo Swinney stated he was displeased with the way I handled the traffic stop. Mr. Gregory said he watched the video and said I acted in a professional manner.”
Clemson spokesperson Tim Bourret issued several statements to reporters over the last week saying Swinney has paid the fine and was speeding because he was late to his radio show.
McClatchy said he would like to return to work as a police officer. He has hired Chuck Allen, a University of South Carolina trustee, as his legal counsel.