Omaha fire Chief fires union president, citing internal investigation of alleged assault

Steve LeClair pleaded no contest to misdemeanor assault and disorderly conduct after a woman said he punched her and made a racist remark.

Omaha Fire Chief Dan Olsen has fired the president of the firefighters union, citing an internal investigation of an alleged assault at a bar.

Union leader Steve LeClair faces misdemeanor assault and disorderly conduct charges after a woman said he punched her and made a racist remark.

The woman, Reenita Jackson, alleged that a man who looked like LeClair tried to come onto her three times at Tiger Tom’s Pub, near North 72nd Street and Military Avenue.

She said that he came back a fourth time and whispered “white power” into her ear before punching or striking her in the back, per police reports. Jackson is black.

Sign up for World-Herald news alerts

Be the first to know when news happens. Get the latest breaking headlines sent straight to your inbox.

She did not identify him until she said she saw him on the news the next day. She filed a police report in January. LeClair has denied her version of events from Nov. 9, saying she was confused or being “untruthful.” She complained to the union and the city.

LeClair referred questions Friday to a union representative and his lawyer. A union spokeswoman said they have no plans to replace LeClair as president. The union, in a statement, said it would work to protect LeClair’s rights.

“Steve LeClair is provided those same rights and will be utilizing the process, as he has done for members in similar situations throughout his tenure,” it said.

LeClair’s lawyer, Mike Dowd, said in a statement that LeClair punched no one and that the city singled him out for his “record of union advocacy.”

“It is beyond dispute that similarly situated firefighters have not been subject to termination, and we are going to vigorously defend Mr. LeClair,” Dowd said.

City Prosecutor Matt Kuhse said earlier this month that an investigation of the allegations “reveals that a physical contact of some sort occurred and was witnessed.”

Mayor Jean Stothert said she supports the fire chief’s decision, based on the investigation, but declined additional comment.

Scott Fitzpatrick, an Omaha Fire battalion chief, relayed a statement from Olsen confirming the move to terminate LeClair.

As a member of the fire union, LeClair retains the ability to fight his firing alongside contesting the legal case against him. His court date is set for next month. Both charges are misdemeanors punishable by up to six months in jail and a $500 fine.

Attempts to reach Jackson Friday were unsuccessful. Jackson’s lawyer did not immediately return calls or an email seeking comment.

World-Herald chief librarian Sheritha Jones contributed to this report.

Sign up for The World-Herald's afternoon updates

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

Commenting is limited to Omaha World-Herald subscribers. To sign up, click here.

If you're already a subscriber and need to activate your access or log in, click here.

Recommended for you

Load comments

You must be a full digital subscriber to read this article You must be a digital subscriber to view this article.