Dayton Police Sgt. Tonina Lamanna is suing to get her job back after she was fired last year for allegedly lying when questioned by supervisors about accessing the police chief’s personnel records.
Lamanna’s case was featured in a recent Dayton Daily News investigation about police officers who have lost their jobs after being accused of lying. READ THE FULL INVESTIGATION HERE.
City and police officials say lying is a cardinal sin for officers because it undermines confidence in law enforcement and therefore public safety. Not telling the truth in some cases has carried a harsher penalty than an officer misusing equipment or not doing his or her job.
But allegations involving lying aren’t always easy to prove. Two of the fired employees were reinstated, including one who still works in the department.
Here are five Dayton police officers who were fired in recent years for allegations that included dishonesty:
In October 2013, Dayton police officer Ronald Horton was fired after he was found guilty of multiple internal charges, including making untruthful statements and submitting a report containing false statements, according to records in his personnel file.
On June 3, 2013, Horton gave false statements about his location to a supervisor before receiving a dispatch call to 329 Washington St., the records indicate.
The call involved assisting another officer on a report of suspected illegal scrapping. Instead of responding to the scrap yard, Horton was apparently at home.
The 23-year veteran of the force had two previous suspensions, in 2009 and 2011, and an oral reprimand in 2012, his personnel file shows.
On March 5, 2009, Philip Mordick got into an altercation with his fiancé that led him to be convicted of misdemeanor disorderly conduct, which is a violation of city policy requiring police officers to adhere to the law, according to a report that resulted in a four-day suspension.
The incident that led to his firing came in January 2010, when he left his beat and went looking for his girlfriend and allegedly lied about it.
Mordick unsuccessfully appealed his termination to the Ohio Second District Court of Appeals.
Court records from Mordick’s appeal allege he twice left his patrol in the third district to go looking for his girlfriend. Police Officer Erica Cash, who was in the cruiser with Mordick, told him his actions were improper, according to the records.
The second time he drove to a home in Riverside, telling dispatchers he was en route to the city’s refueling station. Cash called their sergeant to report what happened. When Mordick returned to the car, the sergeant contacted him and Mordick did not truthfully state his location, according to the court records.
The sergeant launched an investigation that led to Mordick’s firing on April 21, 2010. He was found guilty of three separate internal charges, including providing false information.
The city of Dayton fired police officer Patrick Bucci in July 2011 following an internal investigation into a police chase he took part in, according to records in his personnel file.
Bucci and other Dayton police officers pursued a driver involved in a crash on Interstate 75 on Feb. 26, 2011. Dayton police removed the driver from the vehicle in West Carrollton.
Several officers later told investigators they saw Bucci strike the driver in the face, which police leadership described as an unreasonable use of force.
Bucci was found guilty of using force that exceeded what was required to overcome the resistance. According to his disciplinary records, he also gave “untruthful” statements during an internal affairs review of the incident.
Bucci did not notify the regional dispatch center that he was engaged in the chase and then failed to follow proper investigation and documentation procedures afterward, according to the records.
Most of the charges carried a punishment of a written reprimand or suspension. But the penalty for being untruthful was discharge.
Four other officers involved in the incident were suspended and received written reprimands. A police sergeant was demoted for not reporting the incident, and another officer was just reprimanded.
Travis Salyer was fired May 19, 2014, for allegedly helping a Dayton firefighter dodge a drunk-driving charge by failing to properly investigate a major crash the firefighter caused.
Salyer showed up at the scene of the accident on U.S. 35 on Aug. 28, 2013, and was assigned to get a statement from Brandon Lee. Records say Salyer put Lee in the back of his police cruiser, where Lee spent 90 minutes. During this time, Salyer learned Lee was a city firefighter and was engaged to the daughter of a police sergeant.
Salyer didn’t tell other officers that Lee smelled like alcohol and had what appeared to be vomit in his wrecked car, according to the records.
Officer Erica Cash was in charge of the scene and talked to drivers of the three other vehicles in the crash. They told Cash that Lee was driving the wrong way on U.S. 35 at speeds they pegged as up to 80 mph, crashing as they tried to get out of his way.
Cash radioed to Salyer: “Is there anything I need to know about what he (Lee) says or what’s going on there?”
“That is negative,” Salyer replied, according to an arbitrator’s report, which upheld the firing.
Salyer didn’t ask Lee if he had been drinking or conduct a field sobriety test. Instead, when Cash returned to the cruiser about 30 minutes later, she was handed a hand-written note from Salyer that said Lee was drunk. It also mentioned that Lee was a firefighter and was engaged to a cop’s daughter.
Salyer later said he was concerned about retaliation by Dayton paramedics if he arrested Lee.
“I didn’t want their level of care for me to be different because of enforcement action I took against one of their own,” he said, according to court records from his failed appeal.
Cash immediately contacted their supervisor, who directed Salyer to take Lee downtown for testing. But when he did, Salyer didn’t follow proper procedure, according to the arbitrator’s report. Lee had a .142 blood-alcohol level – nearly twice the legal limit even hours after the accident – but city prosecutors said they were unable to charge him with drunk driving because of Salyer’s mistakes. Lee pleaded guilty to a hit-skip violation.
The arbitrator’s report said Salyer showed “substantial incompetence” regardless of whether he intentionally omitted information.
In an unrelated development, Cash resigned in May 2015 after she pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct for interfering with a Trotwood police investigation of a fatal hit-and-run accident involving a friend. An investigation found she was in contact with the suspect the morning after the accident but prevented officers from locating and interviewing him.
Cash resigned before the department conducted an internal review of the allegations against her, which included making false statements.
Dayton police officer Karim Hassan was fired in December 2014 after being found guilty of being untruthful.
Hassan lied when he told his supervisor that he had pulled over and stopped chasing a suspect he had been pursuing, according to his disciplinary records.
On Aug. 2, 2014, Hassan engaged in an unauthorized vehicle pursuit and violated traffic laws when he operated his cruiser at speeds in excess of 70 miles per hour during the chase, according to the records.
Hassan violated traffic laws when he ran several stop signs and drove the wrong way down a one-way street during the chase, the records state.
Hassan failed to stop the pursuit, as instructed by his supervisor, and failed to complete a police report on it, according to the records.
Although Hassan told dispatchers he was not chasing the suspect, camera video from his cruiser showed him following the car and speeding up several times to close the gap between them, investigators said.