KTLA: Council member Whitaker says police chief violated his contract by living in San Clemente
Chief Michael Sellers, who is currently on medical leave, never moved to Fullerton as required by his employment contract. KTLA’s David Begnaud’s filed this report Thursday night:
SAN CLEMENTE, Calif. (KTLA) -- Fullerton Police Chief Michael Sellers, who has been on medical leave since August, has some questions to answer about one of the terms of his contract with the city.
Chief Sellers' contract -- signed on April 1, 2009 -- dictated that he had to "make a bona fide effort" to make Fullerton his primary residence by December 2010.
That deadline passed almost a year ago, but Sellers still lives some 40 miles away, in a gated community in San Clemente.
Property records indicate that he has lived there for the past 10 years.
"I think there were no efforts of any sort that he exhibited," Fullerton City Councilman Bruce Whitaker told KTLA.
Whitaker is one of two councilmembers who have, in the past, called for Sellers to resign.
"I think we should press the matter," Whitaker said.
"On behalf of taxpayers, they understand right now that we're paying large amounts of money for a chief not to be on the job."
Sellers was hired at a salary of $192,000 per year -- about $16,000 every month.
"If he hasn't lived up to the terms of this agreement, I'd be in favor of pushing our side of the equation," Whitaker said.
But legal expert Ken Rosenfeld says the phrase "make a bona fide effort" is so vauge that it would almost be impossible to prove that Sellers did not make an effort.
Councilman Whitaker says he will try anyways.
"I've talked to the city manager about it, but we haven't pressed for an internal opinion about it," Whitaker said. "I imagine that will follow shortly."
Sellers' medical leave began in August amid growing scrutiny of his department's handling of a violent altercation between six police officers and 37-year-old homeless man Kelly Thomas.
He recently asked a second extension to his medical leave, which would last at least another 60 days.
City Manager Jose Felz says Sellers is legally allowed to take up to 12 months medical leave as a law enforcement officer.
The city has hired a doctor to review Sellers' medical records, however, then make a recommendation to the city.
Capt. Kevin Hamilton has taken over as acting chief in his absence.