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Rural Utah city reverses demotion of manager who pointed gun at employees


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HYDE PARK, Cache County — Two city employees quit their jobs after their manager was demoted and subsequently reinstated to his position after allegedly pointing a gun at them during a meeting months ago.

On Nov. 14, Mike Grunig, Hyde Park's public works director, called a regular meeting in his office. But that meeting took a strange turn when employees say he stated, "Don't you think Justin would look better with a green dot on his forehead?"

"Mike then pulled a 9 mm Smith & Wesson handgun out of his pocket that had not been in a holster, open(ed) the slide, turn(ed) on the green laser and pointed it" at employee Justin Bodrero, a North Park police memo states.

Employees said Grunig then pointed the gun's laser at Bodrero's crotch before moving the laser onto the chests of the other two men.

The series of events is painted in documents obtained by the Deseret News Thursday through a public records request.

Grunig told the men that "he had a friend that does this to him and he hates it," the investigative memo written by North Park Police Chief Steve Milne states.

"It was like the oxygen was sucked out of the room," public works employee Kolby Christiansen told police.

Christiansen said he didn't know whether there was ammunition in the gun at the time and Grunig did not make any threatening statements while pointing the weapon, Milne wrote.

In statements to the police chief, Christiansen and Bodrero described strange behavior they noticed in Grunig and their fear of retaliation if they reported the incidents, which they said led them to wait months.

"I asked Justin why he did not report this sooner. He said at the time he was more taken back, but after hearing of other incidents he is worried about Mike and worried about other people's safety. He stated that Mike has lots of friends and sees him getting away with a lot of things. He was also worried about hurting Mike's career and didn't want to be responsible for that," Milne wrote.

Christiansen and Bodrero also mentioned Grunig's friendships with members of the Hyde Park City Council and what they described as his ability to talk his way out of trouble, according to the memo.

The men said they are all experienced with guns but that they had never experienced something like that before. "We all have grown up with guns and know you don't point them at people," Bodrero wrote in his statement.

Our policies and our procedures from the past are not adequate for the situations that we find ourselves in sometimes. And legally, we are required to follow our policies.

–Hyde Park Mayor Sharidean Flint

On Jan. 30, Hyde Park Mayor Sharidean Flint contacted the police chief about the incident, prompting him to interview the men. The mayor determined that Grunig had violated city policies. She demoted him from his position as public works director and decreased his wages.

"I conclude that the drawing and pointing of a gun at a city employee during work hours constitutes offensive, deliberate, careless and negligent conduct that endangers the safety of your fellow city employees. I find this conduct is especially egregious as it came from a supervisor towards an employee under him," Flint wrote.

But after Grunig appealed the demotion, the City Council voted to reinstate him as public works director and give him back pay for the time he had worked at a reduced rate.

"While the City Council has determined that you did not act in such a way that jeopardized the safety of the other city employees, it has determined that you did act in such a way that was offensive to the recipients and witnesses of your actions," Mayor Pro Tem Charles Wheeler wrote in a memo to Grunnig.

Grunig was instead suspended without pay for six days and returned to work on Monday. He did not respond to messages seeking comment on Thursday.

Two of the employees whom Grunig allegedly pointed a gun at recently quit, the mayor confirmed Thursday.

"I absolutely loved my job. I loved my co-workers," Bodrero said in a prepared statement to the Deseret News. "Like most people I know, I relied on this job to support my family and planned to continue until retirement. This was my career and one of the best jobs I've ever had.

"As most people would be, I was shocked when my superior called a meeting with me and two other co-workers and, during that meeting, pointed a gun at me in two different places. I was even more shocked when the Hyde Park City Council voted to retain him in his position as my supervisor. I think his actions call into question his judgment and the subsequent vote by the Hyde Park City Council to reinstate him as my boss has resulted in a loss of confidence on my end that the safety and well-being of myself and my co-workers is a priority," Bodrero said.

In a letter from the mayor to Grunig, Flint referred to Grunig's version of the incident.

"You acknowledged … you wanted to show off your new gun with its laser, you drew the gun with an opened slide and no magazine, and pointed the gun/laser around the room before pointing it briefly at Justin's crotch. You denied making a comment about a green dot or pointing the gun at Justin's chest or at any of the other employees present. You stated that this was a mistake that you deeply regret and have been humbled over," Flint wrote.

The mayor called the incident an example of "growing pains" experienced by a quickly expanding city.

"Our policies and our procedures from the past are not adequate for the situations that we find ourselves in sometimes. And legally, we are required to follow our policies," Flint told the Deseret News.

She said she believes the City Council made its decision "based on what they thought was right, and I certainly tried to do that. … But you know, legality is always tricky. You can get two attorneys to look at the same position, and they're going to come up with two different answers. And so we're all just trying to figure out what's best for our city and change our policies and try to go forward and make it better, so hopefully this kind of thing won't come up in the future," Flint explained.

"Because you know, we're a small community, a rural community. We've always been very gun friendly. But the times are changing and that's not gonna be possible anymore," the mayor said.

Multiple members of the City Council did not respond to voicemails and emails requesting comment Thursday.

Contributing: Mike Anderson

Correction: A previous version incorrectly stated the City Council did not respond to requests for comment, and that the mayor confirmed two city employees quitting, on Wednesday. It was Thursday.


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