Former Mammoth Lakes Police Department Sergeant Eric Hugelman won a decisive judgment against the Town last week.
Hearing Officer Roberto Morales ruled that Hugelman’s termination a year-and-a-half ago was unjustified and ruled that he should be reinstated.
Morales ruled that Hugelman should have been suspended for three weeks, at most.
Now the question is whether Hugelman will, in fact, rejoin the force and how much back pay he is entitled to.
The Town Council took up the matter in closed session after Wednesday night’s regular meeting, but no decision came out of the session.
However, Hugelman’s attorney spoke to the council in a short but impassioned plea.
“I think it’s easy to forget about the fact that there’s a person behind the decision as well as the family and I think it’s proper that you follow through with Mr. Morales’ decision,” he said.
“It’s well-reasoned and it’s based on fact,” he continued, and a decision “would help give closure not only to the Mr. Hugelman but to the Town of Mammoth Lakes.”
Police Chief Dan Watson had little to say about the case.
“I don’t know where it’s going to go,” he said.
“The implications are whether he comes back or not. He’ll either be back as part of the department or the town will appeal it or something. I don’t want to make a prediction.”
The hearing officer’s opinion is binding unless appealed.
Hugelman was fired by then-Police Chief Randy Schienle as a result of a bar brawl outside Rusty’s in Bishop during Memorial Day Weekend, 2009.
Hugelman was charged with disturbing the peace and challenging a fight, but all charges against him were later dismissed.