Fired 911 operator considers legal action

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TUCSON, Ariz. -- Former Tucson 911 operator Michael Lafond tried and failed Tuesday night to get his job back.

The Civil Service Commission unanimously rejected his appeal.

Afterward Lafond pledged to consider legal action, claiming he's protected as a whistle blower.

"I was doing my job," said Lafond.

After hours of testimony late into the night, Michael Lafond, a 17-year veteran 911 operator didn't back down.

"Apparently he doesn't know what confidential information is," said General Services Department Head Ron Lewis.

The city and the man who fired him didn't back down either.

"He knew he was dong something wrong yet he still did it and he still contends he did nothing wrong.  Given that situation there's no way I can accept that he would be back doing 911 calls," said Lewis.

"There was nothing wrong with what I was doing until they found out the address, then they had a problem," said Lafond.

Lafond contends his termination is a cover up because he exposed details of what went wrong with the new 911 system, on a call that may have led to the death of 10-year-old girl.

"I was reporting something that had the public safety in mind if that doesn't count for some sort of whistle blower statute then I don't know what does," said Lafond.

For 12 hours, commissioners heard from 911 supervisors and dived into mounds of evidence, eventually deciding against Lafond. 

Lafond says he will fight on, the first step would be an appeal to superior court.

"It's not a very common practice but it certainly occurs, it's a tough standard," said Mearle Turchik.

Mearle Turchik, a prominent employment law attorney in Tucson says Lafond has an uphill battle ahead.

"I'm not sure that I see, and I'm not specific with facts of this case, what the specific whistle blowing would be.  He could have a first amendment case for just raising issues," said Turchik.

"They knew if they didn't shut me up, I wasn't going to stop talking," said Lafond.

It appears all the talking has spurred change.

The 911 system now under control of the Tucson fire department and Wednesday night union officials said Lafond's personal sacrifice helped make it possible.

President of CW Local 7000, the union representing Lafond, says they are busy prepping a list of interested lawyers to take on Lafond's case, so this process is far from over.