Deputy Eric Kozowski was fired on Wednesday by Sheriff L. Shane Nelson based on internal investigations which concluded that Kozowski violated Sheriff’s Office policies.
Kozowski was placed on paid administrative leave on September 24, 2017 due to allegations from 2010 and 2016. Kozowski allegedly failed to take a report in 2010 and failed to arrest a wanted suspect in 2016.
Kozowski challenged Sheriff Nelson for his position in the 2016 election.
In a press release Sheriff Nelson stated, “I expect members of the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office to adhere to the mission and values of this office. I will continue to enforce the highest standards of professionalism and conduct at the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office.”
Kozowski’s lawyer, Michael McGean, released a statement just after the Sheriff’s Office announced Kozowski’s termination. In his statement McGean maintains that the investigation, and now termination, of Kozowski was retaliatory.
“Deputy Kozowski’s termination is clearly retaliation for exercising his constitutional rights of free speech and political participation in running against Sheriff Nelson,” said McGean. “That retaliation and the Sheriff’s violations of State and Federal law will be the subject of a lawsuit that will be filed shortly in the federal court of Oregon.”
The investigation into the allegations against Kozowski were opened after he announced his candidacy for Sheriff in March 2016.
McGean also said Kozowski was fired for an alleged violation pertaining to the wearing of Sheriff’s Office uniforms for campaign related activity, not the failure to write a report or arrest a suspect as was stated in the Sheriff’s Office statement.