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Gig Harbor Woman Speaks To Lakewood City Council About Her Son's Firing Monday Night

Former Lakewood Police Officer Brian Wurts was fired Dec. 28 for alleged misconduct in connection to Skeeter Manos, who was convicted of embezzling money from a fund for the families of Lakewood's Fallen Four.

Virginia Wurts told Lakewood City Council members that she was following her heart by speaking to them Monday night.

It has been less than two weeks since former Lakewood Police Officer and her son, Brian Wurts, lost his job for alleged misconduct connected to former Officer Skeeter Manos, who was convicted of embezzling money from a fund meant to benefit the families of Lakewood's Fallen Four.

A handful of people testified Monday night that Wurts is a good officer and a good person who shouldn't have lost his job.

That included Virginia Wurts of Gig Harbor, who said her son didn't ask her to speak to the City Council. She read a letter that she wrote to Lakewood Police Chief Bret Farrar in May.

Her son, the former president of the Lakewood Police Guild, didn't know about the actions of Manos, which once they were uncovered immediately severed any trust and friendship between the two.

"If this information had been known to Brian, as the president of the guild, there is no way he would have been OK with Skeeter being in charge and responsible for such a significant fund," Virginia Wurts said. "It just would not make any sense."

"If, for a minute, Brian thought Skeeter was doing anything that would affect the well-being of the department," she added, "he would have been the first to confront Skeeter and then report it to his superiors."

Here are excerpts of the letter that she read in front of the Lakewood City Council on Monday night:

When Skeeter chose to steal from the families of those lost officers, in a way, it was worse than crazy man Clemmons brutally taking the lives of our dear officers. Mr. Clemmons was mentally ill. He had been in trouble all of his life. He had a long history of criminal activity.

Skeeter, on the other hand, was a police officer. This is a person that you just assume is going to be one of the good guys. This was my son’s friend. We met his wife and children at the fallen officer memorial service. How can this be? What was Skeeter thinking? He was either terribly arrogant, terribly stupid or did he just want to give it all up and get caught? From the morning of Nov. 29, I was glued to the TV and proud of how the enire department and community pulled together during this tragic time for so many.

Later, I watched and listened as Brian testified in front of a panel in Olympia regarding this tragedy. It was reassuring as I saw your hand, Chief Farrar, placed on Brian’s shoulder on more than one occasion as Brian broke down during his testimony in front of the panel, and again near the Lakewood Police Department station. Brian has always spoken very highly of you and has, in many ways, regarded you as a mentor and as a support superior.

Brian has shared his heart on more than one occasion through this horrid ordeal. While Skeeter used this time for his own selfishness, Brian has worked diligently for good, giving endless hours for change. This has involved his work with the guild, assisting and organizing the fallen officers fund, his work in (WACops) and in his recent run for state representative. His efforts in seeking to get several laws passed regarding law enforcement and belt concerns are known to many.

Yes, he was associated with Skeeter. He loved him. He trusted him as a brother. Skeeter's children refer to Brian as "Uncle Brian." That trust and relationship was severed when Brian was informed of Skeeter's dishonesty and betrayal to so many regarding this tragedy.

To my understanding, Chief Farrar, according to the news reports, the Lakewood Police Department was not informed that Skeeter was on the verge of having his wages garnished. This information is unfortunate on many levels. If this information had been known to Brian, as the president of the guild, there is no way he would have been OK with Skeeter being in charge and responsible for such a significant fund. It just would not make any sense. Brian has never been the type that particularly is driven by money. This is obvious in the extra amount of hours he has given over his career with Lakewood Police Department. If anything, Brian has, on more than one occasion, reminded his father and I to save more and spend less. He has never been one to have a lot of debt, and I can also say that as long as I have know Brian, I have never known him to lie to me or to his father. If for a minute Brian thought Skeeter was doing anything that would affect the well-being of the department, he would have been the first to confront Skeeter and then report it to his superiors.

We understand that, due to the close relationship between Brian and Skeeter, the department has a responsibility to investigate the situation to determine any fault on Brian’s part. We also under that Brian was cleared of any wrongdoing through the FBI investigation, as well as the Tacoma Police Department. Why then is Brian not back to work?

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Skeeter chose to be dishonest. His poor judgment has resulted in great loss on all levels. This includes the families of the fallen officers. This includes the honor of what a police officer is sworn to protect his fellow officers. This includes the tremendous impact Skeeter's actions have caused his own family. This includes the community of Lakewood and the Lakewood Police Department. This also includes deep disappointment and sadness for Brian and the loss of his friendship and trust of a fellow officer. Skeeter's actions have put Brian’s reputation and character in question. We are so thankful for the continued support of Brian’s fellow officers that kept extending to him during this difficult time.

Lakewood Police Department is so much more than the actions of Skeeter Manos. My hope is that Lakewood Police Department, with your leadership, will continue to move forward serving the City of Lakewood with continued dedication and honor. As with any successful organization, it is often during times of trial that policies, procedures and communication are examined and re-examined.

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It is my hope that this situation is one of those opportunities for Lakewood Police Department. We respectfully ask, as a citizen and a parent, to continue to stand behind Brian and extend that needed hand of encouragement and support. Brian’s desire and commitment to do his job in the City of Lakewood remains dedicated and steadfast. Thank you again for this opportunity to express our concerns.

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