Fired Troy police officer had ‘pattern of similar misconduct’

ajc.com

A 17-year Troy police veteran fired following an April arrest in which a suspect was injured had a “pattern of similar misconduct” that the city’s service and safety director said further supported the job termination.

Officer Eric Kilbourne was fired June 1 for a series of city and police department policy violations, including alleged excessive use of force against a 37-year-old Bellefontaine man arrested April 25 following a domestic dispute at a local hotel. The man was taken to the hospital for treatment before being jailed.

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The incident is being investigated by the Piqua Police Department at the request of Troy Police Chief Shawn McKinney and could be presented to a Miami County grand jury.

Reports and information obtained from the city and police department show Kilbourne received a letter of reprimand in 2008 for actions responding to an assault. He was found in violation of policies for deploying a Taser and threatening to use it and for charging a man with obstructing official business after being advised otherwise by prosecutors.

In December 2012, the officer was provided consultation for when use of force would be proper and for ways of reducing the use of force, if possible. In January 2017, Kilbourne was provided consultation for use of force when a man was struck in the face after pulling away from Kilbourne after he was taken from a car and told he was under arrest.

In February 2017, he received consultation for use of force in handling a handcuffed man who was arguing with him. This time, Kilbourne was “asked to make a conscious effort to not be baited into arguments.”

He received counseling in December 2020 for issues with use of force reporting.

In mid-April 2021, Kilbourne was given a written reprimand for insubordination for conduct toward a sergeant during shift rollcall.

Two other officers also face disciplinary action stemming from the April 25 incident, accused of failing to intervene during the use of force in the department’s sally port in the early morning hours. Neither officer has had any previous disciplinary action, according to their personnel file.

They also are accused, along with Kilbourne, of failing to properly report their use of force in their incident reports.

McKinney said an investigation was initiated April 26, the day after the incident, after the man’s mother called the department and spoke with a sergeant. The sergeant reviewed videos and brought the incident to the administrators’ attention, he said.

Kilbourne was first placed on paid administrative leave and then in late May was suspended without pay before the termination a few days later.

The department sharing of information on incidents and court rulings and training on use of force is ongoing, McKinney said. “It is almost continual, it is such a hot button issue right now,” he said.

Capt. Jeff Kunkleman conducted an internal investigation that included interviews and review of audio from Kilbourne’s body microphone and videos from cameras in the sally port.

As officers and the suspect arrived at the police department, the suspect and Kilbourne were engaging in a verbal exchange. That back and forth included cursing, and, at one point, the suspect tells the officer he was “like other cops who kneel on people until they die” and urges Kilbourne to “unhook” him so they could fight, Kunkleman wrote in his investigation.

Kilbourne was accused of holding the suspect in a headlock, taking him to the ground, pushing the suspect’s face to the floor and placing his knee on the man’s arm, the report said. As the knee was on the arm, the suspect was “yelling in pain,” the report said.

Kilbourne was accused of making a crying noise, and saying to the suspect, “Now you know how your old lady felt, right, when you were beating on her?”

Kunkleman wrote that the suspect “was handcuffed and clearly controlled prior to being taken to the ground. The investigation finds no necessity or reason for that use of force.”