CLAYTON — Clayton Police Officer Mark Gau officially resigned from the Clayton Police Department effective July 21 at 10 p.m., according to a letter of resignation he submitted to city officials.
In his letter Gau stated he was resigning due to the fact that he is suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder following a crash that claimed the life of a motorcyclist and could no longer function in his capacity as a police officer.
Gau pulled out of the Shell True North station at State Route 49 and Hoke Road when he was dispatched to a traffic crash. He pulled out of a driveway where a “No Left Turn” sign was posted, but he told this newspaper that the reason he made that turn was due to the fact that the adjacent intersection was blocked by numerous cars.
He stressed that he acknowledged to dispatch that cars were blocking the intersection, but that information was not included in the incident report.
Gau said he looked both ways twice, but even though he was wearing sunglasses he was unable to see an approaching motorcycle because the sun was in his eyes. The motorcyclist, James Payne, Jr., 51, of Dayton, died in the hospital more than two weeks later.
Since the crash Gau and his family have been repeatedly harassed and have received death threats. People have criticized Gau via posts on news websites for not apologizing for the crash. He said he knelt down next to Payne and apologized profusely immediately after crash and stayed with him until medics arrived.
“That is the only person I owe an apology to,” Gau said. “Our condolences of sympathy go to Mr. Payne’s family and hope that we can all get past this. We genuinely care for the Payne family, as well as our own, during this most difficult time.”
He went on to say that prior to the accident he had already decided to leave the department due to ongoing issues within the department, and that the accident only reinforced his decision to leave.
“After careful consideration and numerous events that took place in the department and involving city administration, the crash was the final factor in my decision to resign as a Clayton police officer,” Gau stated.
A disciplinary hearing had been scheduled to take place July 21 at the Clayton offices, but Gau had already decided to resign. When asked if the hearing would have resulted in Gau being terminated, City Manager Rick Rose said that was not the case. The hearing would have involved a lawyer from the police union, Gau’s attorney, the city’s attorney, Rose and Police Chief Matt Hamlin.
“Officer Mark Gau submitted his written resignation from the Clayton Police Department effective Tuesday, July 21, 2015,” Rose said. “Officer Gau served the residents of Clayton for over 13 years and was well respected by the community. We will miss Mark and do wish him well in future endeavors.
“Once again, we wish to take this opportunity to extend our sincere sympathy to the Payne family members and wish to acknowledge our concern for Mark Gau and his family as well,” Rose added. “Our thoughts and prayers are extended to all.”