CANTON, Mo. -- Ryan G. Clanton, a former Canton Police Department sergeant, is facing a charge of tampering with physical evidence in connection with the disappearance last year of an AR-15 rifle belonging to the CPD.
Clanton has been summoned to appear in Lewis County Circuit Court on Aug. 3 for arraignment on the charge -- a Class A misdemeanor that carries a possible sentence of up to a year in jail, a fine of up to $2,000, or both.
Adair County Prosecuting Attorney Matt Wilson, who is serving as special prosecutor in the case, filed the charge against Clanton July 2 in Lewis County Circuit Court. The Lewis County Sheriff's Department subsequently presented Clanton with a summons ordering him to appear in court.
According to the charging documents and probable cause statements filed in the case, Clanton allegedly sold a Canton Police Department AR-15 rifle -- a military-style weapon -- at a pawn shop in West Quincy in September of 2017. Then in June of 2018, Clanton's employment with the city of Canton ended after he accepted a job as police chief in nearby LaGrange.
According to the court documents, Canton Police Chief Ryan Crandell asked Clanton to return all department-issued equipment to the Canton Police Department. However, Clanton did not immediately produce the AR-15. He told Crandell the rifle was at his father's residence and he would have to go get it.
In August of 2018, Clanton allegedly tried to turn in a different AR-15, claiming it was the department-issued rifle he had been given. The police chief noticed that the rifle's identification number did not match the rifle listed on the department's inventory list, and he refused to accept the firearm.
The next day, according to the documents, Clanton told Crandell he was resigning as LaGrange's police chief. He later told Crandell that he had pawned the CPD's rifle because he was in financial trouble at the time and needed the money.
Crandell subsequently met in special session with the Canton Board of Aldermen to discuss the missing AR-15. The board voted to turn the matter over to the Lewis County Sheriff's Department for investigation.
Sheriff David Parrish carried out the investigation, which eventually led to the recovery of the missing rifle from the West Quincy pawn shop. The investigation also discovered that Clanton, after being hired as LaGrange's police chief, allegedly used LaGrange Police Department funds to buy the AR-15 that he tried to pass off as the one belonging to the Canton Police Department.
The investigation, in turn, led to the appointment of Wilson as special prosecutor -- a prolonged process that delayed the bringing of any charges until now.