CASPER, Wyo. — In a press conference held on Sept. 21, Casper City Manager Carter Napier addressed allegations of domestic violence against Mayor Bruce Knell. The allegations stem from an incident on Sept. 15 at the Thomson Hotel in Austin, Texas.
The Austin Police Department confirmed that officers responded to a disturbance call at Thompson Austin, a luxury hotel at 506 San Jacinto Blvd., on Friday, Sept. 15 at about 11:03 p.m. No arrests were made.
Napier was informed of the allegations by Casper Chief of Police Keith McPheeters on Monday afternoon and relayed the information to the Casper City Council later that day.
An executive session was subsequently held on Tuesday following the regularly scheduled meeting to discuss legal aspects of the incident. Neither McPheeters nor City officials had had any contact with Texas law enforcement agencies before the press conference was held.
“We are not aware of any active investigations concerning our Mayor, whether that be here in Wyoming or in Texas,” Napier said. “Investigations may be forthcoming in either of those jurisdictions, but we are not aware, at this point in time, that that might be the case.”
“At this point in time, there is no indication the City Council is interested in pursuing avenues of removal,” Napier said of Knell’s continuation as the city’s mayor.
Summary removal was not an available option.
“The mayor is not an employee. He’s not any employee of the city, he’s not an employee of the city council,” Napier said. “Therefore he cannot be released … for cause, like an employee potentially could, or for reasons provided through an at-will arrangement.”
Knell vehemently denies the allegations.
“The alleged incident happened in Austin, Texas, on a trip for a football game with two other couples,” Knell said. “I was not arrested after a thorough investigation by seven Austin policemen. I absolutely deny any involvement in any injuries she sustained while we were down there.”
Local media outlet K2 News reported on the allegations based on a temporary protection order filed by Stacy Knell.
“Upon the filing of a petition for order of protection, the court shall: Immediately grant an ex parte temporary order of protection if it appears from the specific facts shown by the affidavit or by the petition that there exists a danger of further domestic abuse,” Wyo. Stat. § 35-21-104 states.
Regarding the city’s operations moving forward, Napier said, “Despite this … your city will do the best that it possibly can to conduct business of the citizenry as usual and without interruption and hopefully without much delay.”
The City Council cited attorney–client privilege as one reason for the authority to hold an executive session concerning these allegations.