Allegations surfaced in the media Monday when Fox 5 News in an I-Team investigation revealed former field training officer Shane Ladner allegedly falsified his record to gain entry to the parade last November, an event sponsored by a Texas-based nonprofit that also provided honorees with an all-expenses-paid whitetail deer hunt.
Holly Springs Police Chief Ken Ball said Monday that while Ladner is no longer employed with his department and no active investigation is under way, he did notify Cherokee’s District Attorney Shannon Wallace, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and the U.S. Attorney General’s Office of the situation.
“Allegations arose three to four weeks ago that Shane gave false information to get into the parade, and he did not have a Purple Heart,” Ball said. “Other than talk, we have no evidence at this time.”
Ball said that his office had attempted to contact the military to get details of Ladner’s record since the allegations arose.
Ball said that when an applicant with military experience applies with the police department, proof of an honorable discharge must be provided, and Ladner did provide that form and it was verified with the military.
“Whether he had a Purple Heart and his actual service record are not a part of that process,” Ball said.
Ladner was on 12 weeks of paid family leave following the accident and another 12 weeks without pay, but still held a position with the police department until April 5, Ball said.
When that time was up, Ball said the department attempted to make contact with Ladner and his attorney, but after failing to reach either, the department sent a certified letter April 5 saying he was no longer employed.
Over the last several months, a handful of fundraising events were held in the couples’ name to raise money for medical expenses incurred by Ladner’s wife, Meg Ladner, including a pancake breakfast and golf tournament.
She recovered for several months at Atlanta Medical Center after the parade float that she and her husband were riding on was hit by an oncoming train, injuring 16 others and killing four.
Friend and event organizer Julie Klein Cassidy said Monday the allegations made by Fox 5 News are “terribly unfair.”
She said neither she, nor the Ladners, wanted to comment further.
According to an initial release from Holly Springs police prior to the parade, Ladner served as an Army police officer and was wounded twice in combat, which ultimately led to his retirement from active duty.
The release also stated he was given “awards for valor” in times of warfare.