WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — He was fired not for being a bad employee, but for being locked up.
But now, after being cleared of all charges against him, former Wilmington firefighter Robert Hester is back home. Now he and other firefighters are working their way up the ladder to try and get his job back.
The city fired Hester in April because he’d missed too many days of work while being held without bond in Virginia. During his trial many of his former colleagues continued to stand by his side.
“The DA’s office decided to drop the remaining charge, because there was no credible evidence that ANYTHING happened, and their one witness perjured herself, and is no longer credible,” Master firefighter Michael Bannon wrote in an email to all of WFD shortly after the verdict. “He will be home tonight if anyone wants to come up to Elizabethtown to welcome him home… Anyone is welcome to go, and show him that this department did not abandon him.”
The following day Wilmington Fire Chief Buddy Martinette started the push to get Hester his old job back.
“At this point I would like to request that we reinstate Robert to his previous position and pay him retroactively to the day he was terminated,” Martinette wrote in an e-mail to City Attorney Bill Wolak. “As most of you know, I was vehemently opposed to the way this situation was handled, however I carried out my duties as chief to terminate this employee.”
Until Hester can either have his civil servant hearing or is reinstated many of his colleagues have vowed to stand beside him and fan the flames of hope.
We tried to contact Hester for comment on this story and on his pending appeal, but we have not heard back. Chief Martinette was also not available for comment this afternoon.