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Fiery Grounsell Supporters Pack Simpsonville City Hall — Again

As repeated demands for his reinstatement fall on deaf ears, fired police chief Keith Grounsell hints at a lawsuit and a potential City Council run.

Fired Simpsonville Police Chief Keith Grounsell said Tuesday night that the city's refusal to grant a grievance hearing appealing his controversial termination by City Council last month may force him to file a lawsuit to regain his job.

Grounsell, following another raucous and contentious Council meeting, also indicated that he might even run for the next available seat on Council, which voted 5-2 on December 28 to terminate him after little more than three months on the job.

"My initial goal was to get my job back," Grounsell told Patch after the meeting. "I had no intentions of filing a lawsuit. But, if I'm going to continue to be slandered [by Council], and they're going to do me wrong and not tell the truth up there, I'm not going to have a choice…. I'm going to fight this thing to the end."

Grounsell said his first objective was "to clean the city up. My second objective is to get my job back. If I could do both of them, that's great. But I'm going to clean this city up regardless if I'm in this position or not, because I'm a taxpayer and I live in the city limits." 

Asked if he planned to run for City Council, Grounsell said, "I'm not certain, but I've been asked." 

Tuesday night's Council meeting followed a similar script to the previous one two weeks ago. Then, around 200 supporters rallied outside City Hall and later packed Council chambers to angrily call for Grounsell's reinstatement.

The chamber was packed again Tuesday night, as boisterous, sign-toting supporters reiterated demands that Council give Grounsell his job back and also give definitive reasons for Grounsell's dismissal.

Grounsell said in a detailed, 24-page grievance letter earlier this month that his dismissal stemmed largely on his insistence on disciplining former assistant police chief Colleen O'Neil for an alleged undisclosed affair with city fire chief Wesley Williams. The city, Grounsell alleged, feared a lawsuit from O'Neil if he pressed the matter since she had filed an EEOC complaint against the city after being passed over for the chief's job in favor of Grounsell last August.

, worked poorly with city officials and, after a performance review, was according to

For Grounsell, and his many supporters, those reasons remain too vague and reek of inside politics. 

"We voted you in — and we can vote you out," said Grounsell supporter Cathy Jacobson. "You have made a grave mistake. The citizens have made it clear they want Keith as their chief."

"As a result of Mr. Grounsell's termination, Simpsonville's leadership is now under tremendous scrutiny, as they rightfully should be, and your constituents are demanding answers, yet you refuse to provide any," Jacobson said.

"Matters will only continue to get worse until this situation is resolved," she added. "If you want to save face, and keep any of your dignity and respect from the community, I ask that once again City Council reevaluates its decision to terminate Mr. Grounsell."

Fellow Grounsell supporter Jack Burrett said the Council's termination of Grounsell had made Simpsonville "the butt of the joke in Greenville County."

Another supporter, Kay Ashe, told Council: "How many more times are you going to embarrass the city of Simpsonville."

The abuse didn't end when the 45-minute meeting adjourned. Grounsell supporters quickly pounced on Mayor Eichor, as well as city administrator Russ Hawes and Council member George Curtis, alleging everything from incompetence to corruption.

Amid the abuse, Eichor said the Council had followed the rules and the law in terminating Grounsell and he gave no indication that the Council planned to change its mind, despite the clamor of the crowd. 

Still, he did indicate that the personal attacks against him had taken at least a little bit of a toll. "I"m 75, but I'm feeling 78 these days," he said.

The protests against Council's decision to terminate Grounsell aren't likely to abate soon. As the meeting broke up, several in the capacity crowd shouted, "see you next meeting!" while others chanted, "we want Keith!"

"These people think we're going away," Grounsell told Patch. "The people aren't going away. They (the Council) have awakened a sleeping giant in the citizens. In no other meeting has there ever been this much continuous support for one ongoing issue. And if these people do not see that, they'll be elected out of office very soon."

Laura Johnson February 06, 2013 at 05:50 AM
You Mayor Perry Eichor supporters are just as fake as your profiles on here and facebook. You spread lies and act like you are wanting what is best for the city, but you support nothing more than the good old boy system. You cyber bully and stalk people on facebook and sites like this because they allow you to do it. You must have no life other than to spread lies. I find if funny to see both Colleen O. and Karen H. still on here under fake names. Colleen the gig is up and you quit the PD because the heat was on and everyone knew who you really are. Karen once you are reported you will not be at the PD much longer. Be careful who you buddy up with especially if they already ran out on you when it got hot. Enjoy your time while it last short timer! Good luck in life and happy hunting for a job. Colleen McDonalds is hiring, oh yea you’re probably not qualified for that either! Lol, lol, lol I will visit here again when I come back in town. Until I see you again, love ya all and keep strong all of you who really are on the side of truth and justice. Smile, speak your mind and always tell the truth…and you will fly above others in life. Peace out!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Oh yea…keep hiding behind fake names if your lyng about things and are living in shame of the choices you made in life. Lol Be sweet, Lj
Korey Reynolds February 06, 2013 at 10:41 AM
Just another flying monkey launched to spread lies for the geneva network. As usual no debateing the facts...just its fake names, it must be lies
Rebeccah Brissey February 06, 2013 at 01:52 PM
You tell 'em girl...Love it!!!!!
Glenn Richards February 07, 2013 at 06:55 PM
M LaStringer, Think again...he wasn't even an 'official' police officer over there!
Leona February 07, 2013 at 10:33 PM
I've looked through the threads and have yet to see any threats. Were those removed? From what I've seen televised, the city council meetings have been quite chaotic but this is quite a heated situation for both sides.

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