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Old September 18th, 2008, 08:50 PM   #19
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So Pete (me playing devil's advocate)

Inform us about "Troopergate". If we did as much wrong as this Trooper did we'd be in jail, not working the same job.

Results of internal police investigation in 2006

Death threat

On March 1, 2006, Wooten was notified of the results of an Alaska State Trooper internal investigation. The probe found that Wooten violated internal policy, but not the law, in making a death threat against Heath (the father of Sarah Palin and Molly McCann).[14] Wooten denied having made the threat, but the investigation decided that he had in fact done so.[14] The trooper investigation concluded that the death threat was not a crime because Wooten did not threaten the father directly; therefore, the investigator deemed the threat to be a violation of trooper policy rather than a violation of criminal law.[30] Although the death threat was listed as a violation of trooper policy in the Memorandum of Findings[14] issued on October 29, 2005, it was not mentioned at all in the suspension letter[31] sent to Wooten by Col. Grimes on March 1, 2006.

Moose hunt

The Alaska State Trooper internal investigation also found that Wooten had committed a hunting violation in shooting a moose without a permit: he had been out hunting with McCann in September 2003 and had shot the animal himself even though their permit was in McCann's name only.[14] According to subsequent news reports, McCann had obtained the permit but balked at killing the moose herself, so she handed the gun to her then-husband, who shot the animal.[32]

Taser incident

Wooten was also found to have violated department policy in using a Taser on his then 11-year old stepson in 2003; he told investigators that he did so "in a training capacity" after the child had asked to be tased in order to show his cousin, Sarah Palin's daughter Bristol, that he "wasn't a mama's boy".[33][14] In a statement to the police, the boy said "that he wanted to be tased to show that he's not a mommy's boy in front of Bristol. Following being tased he went upstairs to tell his mother that he was fine."[18] In a statement to the police, Molly McCann said "she was up stairs giving a bath to the kids … Mike was going to show Payton what it feels like and she told Mike that he better not."[18] According to Molly's account, she remained upstairs during the incident.

In a September 2008 newspaper interview Wooten said that he "deeply regretted" the Taser incident.[34] He said that he set the Taser to "test" mode, meaning that it was on low power. Wooten added that he attached clips to the child rather than firing darts from a gun, that he turned on the power for less than one second, and that afterwards his stepson "thought it was great and wanted to do it all over again". He stated that "everyone laughed about" the incident at the time.[34] He also said that he "would like to put this behind me and get on with my life", and wished Palin and her family good luck.[34] According to a spokesman for Taser International, "if the Taser is fired for just a second, it would feel like your funny bone was hit."[33]

Although the Taser incident happened in 2003, it was not reported to police until on or after April 11, 2005, the day that Molly McCann filed for divorce. On June 6, 2005, Sgt. Ron Wall, a police investigator, asked Sarah Palin's daughter Bristol why they "waited so long and brought the incident up after two years." Bristol said "because of the divorce."[18]

Alcohol-related allegations

The investigation initially cleared Wooten on all of the alcohol-related charges,[14] but Grimes subsequently overturned that result and found that Wooten did "take [an] open beer with him when he drove away in his trooper vehicle" on one occasion in the summer of 2004, violating both the law and internal trooper policy.[35] Wooten was not on duty; he was wearing "civilian attire." And he "drove approximately one mile to his residence."[18] Because Wooten "was a member of the SERT [SWAT] team … he [was allowed to] use his State vehicle for personal use."[36] The only witnesses to this event were close friends of Sarah Palin's father: "Adrian Lane was a student of Chuck Heath's in Idaho when he was a child and they have been close friends ever since."[14] This is apparently why the original Memo of Findings[14] treated this allegation as "Not Sustained."
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