A large crowd of supporters of former Simpsonville Police Chief Keith Grounsell showed up for the City Council meeting and voiced their displeasure over his ouster.
Simpsonville City Hall was filled with a standing room only crowd while others listened on from the parking lot as council members met for the first time since ousting Grounsell on December 28 by a 5-2 vote. And they were peppered with emotional comments of support for the former chief and questions about why they fired him.
"I think the city of Simpsonville has done a grave injustice to this man," said Kate Jeffries, a supporter of Grounsell. "I think it will come back to you."
Jeffries was among the many of Grounsell's supporters who was able to speak out after council originally did not allow comments to be made because nobody had signed up. However, after meeting Executive Session for about an hour they opened the floor for comments, and faced the voices of many of the residents.
"I am so ashamed I voted for you," said Mary Collins. Tommy Ashworth also lashed out against the council members.
"I ain't heard nobody come up here in agreement with any of you guys," he stated.
One person he lashed out with an expletive against council.
"I'm a good Christian woman," the woman stated. "But (expletive) you."
But the big moment came when Grounsell walked up to the podium and demanded a public hearing over his dismissal after filing a grievance on Monday.
"I want a public meeting," Grounsell yelled. "I demand a public hearing so I can air all of your dirty laundry."
Despite all of the comments, Simpsonville Mayor Perry Eichor stood by a statement earlier in the day by saying that Grounsell was dismissed over divulging classified information and not living up to the standards and leadership of a police chief.
"I made an error when voting to hire him," Eichor said. "He does not have the skills to be a police chief."
All five council members who voted for Grounsell stood by their decisions. George Curtis was among them.
"Mr. Grounsell was decided to be completely not at fault by the public," he said. 'Even though they had no information at all."
During the course of the Executive Session which according to the agenda had to do with the discussion of Police Department and Fire Department personnel matters, Council voted to lift the suspensions of two city employees. Following the session, council members would not say who the two employees were, although one council member did tell 7 On Your Side in a phone interview that, "I know and you know who it is, but I cannot say due to legal matters."
On Monday, City Adminsitrator Russ Hawes confirmed that Assistant Police Chief Colleen O'Neil and City Fire Chief Wesley Williams had each been suspended from their position, although no reason was given.
Only council members Sylvia Lockaby and Geneva Lawrence voted in favor of Grounsell.