BATTLE GROUND, Wash. - The Clark County Sheriff's Office deputy who was fired over his son's accidental shooting said he was let go as a scapegoat for problems in the investigation and with the gun safes tied to the case.
While Ed Owens says his firing was wrong, the Clark County sheriff says he stands by his decision.
In September 2010, Owens' 3-year-old son, Ryan, managed to get a gun out of a gun safe inside the family's home and accidentally shot himself in the head. The boy died.
An internal investigation into the shooting incident contends Owens coerced a confession out of a witness and violated sheriff’s policies. Owens denied that and called his firing "a political move by the sheriff's office, in order to protect themselves on this issue."
And on the sheriff's release of information, Owens said "It's been very selective on what they've released on this."
Owens points to a YouTube video that demonstrates how easy some of the manufacturers' gun safes, distributed by the sheriff's department, are to get open.
The Deputy Sheriff's Guild may file a grievance on Owens' behalf, suspecting the firing is more personal than professional.
"The Guild's position, and one of the things in large part of what the Guild will evaluate, is whether or not the sheriff should have stepped into this family relationship and imposed the sheriff's family beliefs upon Ed and how Ed interacts with his family," said Mark Makler, an attorney for the Deputy Sheriff's Guild.
"We believe that he violated county policies and violated the expectations that our community has for us," said Clark County Sheriff Garry Lucas by phone.
He said, while some gun safes have been recalled, the one's given to his deputies, including Owens', were not.
"The model safe that we issued was not among that recall," Lucas said. "There has not been one of the safes of the model that we issued that has been recalled."
An attorney representing Owens called the sheriff's investigation conclusion that Owens coerced a confession from a witness, "nonsense."
The Deputy Sheriff's Guild will have to meet before deciding whether to file a grievance on Owens' behalf.