HAMPTON, Va. (WAVY) - Former state delegate Tom Gear was kicked out of a Hampton City Council meeting Wednesday evening and charged with trespassing.
Gear went to the microphone Wednesday during the public comment portion of the meeting and began by asking council members one by one, what they thought about an undercover police operation that is now under investigation.
Gear said taxpayer money was used when police fabricated a cigarette operation in a warehouse to crackdown on illegal trafficking. According to the Daily Press, more than $3 million flowed through the city's bank account. Council did not authorize it, so Gear wants to know when they found out about the operation
The first two council members answered him but Councilman Chris Stuart refused to answer Gear.
"Madam mayor, if memory serves, this is not a question-answer period," Stuart said.
Mayor Molly Ward agreed with Stuart and asked Gear to move on. Gear refused and asked her seven times when she heard about a cigarette sting. Ward reportedly asked him four times to stop before authorities escorted him out of the chambers. An officer then charged Gear with trespassing.
10 On Your Side obtained a copy of the city council's rules for speakers which are read prior to the comment portion of the meeting and it is clear Gear violated them. The rules state: It is the council's practice to listen and not engage in dialog. There is also a 3-minute time limit which Gear exceeded.
Thursday morning, WAVY.com asked Gear if in hindsight he thought he had gone too far the night before.
"No, I think they went too far not answering my questions," Gear said. "That's their rules, not the rules of the people. The people have the right to know this is our city, this isn't their city. The mayor is hiding something. I think she knew about it long before and I think they tried to cover up when they found out it was illegal."
Gear claims council members are trying to save their own skin.
"I think they're arrogant and think they're above everybody. They think they're the rich and famous and can do whatever they want to do."
10 On Your Side tracked down Mayor Ward at her law firm and asked if she is trying to hide something.
"Absolutely not," Ward said. "I learned about the cigarette incident the same time everyone else on council learned. I don't remember the first moment I heard of it, but we were all formally briefed at the same time."
She said she did not answer Gear because it is her duty to keep order at council meetings. She says there are other forums where the public can ask questions including a live chat she holds online every Tuesday.
Gear is due in court on his summons later this month and vows his fight is not over.
A Newport News school bus went into a ditch Tuesday morning.
Deputies in York County arrested a man after a neighbor reported seeing someone steal a package from a porch Monday.
The man who spent many years at the controls of Chopper 10 is itching to fly again. Pilot John Massey desperately needed a liver transplant. He was very thankful to get one days a couple weeks before Thanksgiving.