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DECATUR – The city of Decatur and its city manager, Tim Gleason, now claim the former police chief Gleason fired cannot rewrite history in an attempt to get his job back.

Gleason and the city assert that ex-chief Brad Sweeney's allegations he was fired in retaliation, among other reasons, for objecting to Gleason's use of a squad car and police driver for a private trip, are invalid. The city and manager's attorneys, Featherstun, Gaumer, Postlewait, Stocks, Flynn & Hubbard, claim in a court filing Tuesday that Sweeney's lawsuit and his request for reinstatement and damages should be dismissed under a legal doctrine called “judicial estoppel.”

This basically states that someone cannot obtain an unfair advantage legally by taking one position on the facts today when, previously, they had taken a contradictory one.

The attorneys write that departmental rules and law required Sweeney to act by registering and reporting his concerns if he objected to Gleason's car ride. Gleason was taken to the airport in St. Louis on May 7 after an appearance at a Greater Decatur Chamber of Commerce State of the City breakfast event so he could catch a flight on time to start his vacation.

The city and Gleason, who in any case maintain the car ride wasn't a breach of city rules and allege Sweeney approved it, say the ex-chief didn't take action at the time and cannot take action now. “A person having a right (here a duty) to act that stands silent, offering no action, cannot later be heard to complain,” the attorneys write.

“Allowing this cause of action to stand allows Sweeney to seek profit from his inconsistent actions.”

The latest court filing also includes an affidavit from Jim Getz, now the acting police chief, who had been the driver who took Gleason to the airport. “I did not consider the act ... as a violation of law or a violation of a policy or procedure of the Decatur Police Department,” Getz states. “Chief of Police Sweeney approved and ordered me to transport City Manager Gleason. I had no cause to question then Chief Sweeney.”

But Sweeney, in his previous court papers, said he did complain to Gleason, and voiced his strong concerns about the car ride at a confrontation in the manager's office about a week later. “Sweeney again advised Gleason that his use of a police car and driver for personal purposes was improper and insisted it could never happen again,” Sweeney's complaint says.

Sweeney, a 20-year department veteran who was named police chief in January 2015, said that confrontation soured his relationship with Gleason, and things worsened when Sweeney refused to support a fuel tax pushed by the city manager. The ex-chief said his objections to the tax were another reason he was fired on Feb. 4

Gleason and the city, who maintain employees such as Sweeney can be hired and fired at will for no reason, say he was terminated for a variety of issues that include poor job performance and not being “truthful” in his dealings with the city manager.

Attempts to reach Sweeney's attorney for comment were unsuccessful.

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