Troy police officer fired after investigation of excessive force, city says

ajc.com

Officer accused of using excessive force following domestic violence arrest.

A Troy police officer was terminated for violating city and department policies including use of excessive force, conduct unbecoming of a police officer, malfeasance in office and not submitting truthful and complete reports.

Eric Kilbourne, an officer since June 2003, was fired June 1 by Patrick Titterington, city service and safety director, following recommendations from Police Chief Shawn McKinney and Tom Funderburg, assistant city service and safety director.

Kilbourne was placed on paid administrative leave by McKinney following an April 25 incident involving alleged use of force and then suspended without pay May 28 following a department investigation.

McKinney said the department also requested an outside agency to conduct a criminal investigation. The investigation is being handled by the Piqua Police Department. That department has been working with the Miami County Prosecutor’s Office for possible presentation to the county grand jury, he said.

County Prosecutor Tony Kendell said Wednesday he could not comment on the investigation or any grand jury consideration.

The incident involved the arrest of a 37-year-old man following a domestic related incident in the early hours at the Hampton Inn and the handling of the suspect at the police department’s sally port, according to an investigation report obtained from the city.

Misdemeanor charges of domestic violence and violating a protection order are pending in Miami County Municipal Court against the man.

The officer’s treatment of the suspect was “clearly punitive for (the suspect’s) ongoing verbal assaults and challenging,” a report stated.

Capt. Jeff Kunkleman conducted the internal investigation that included interviews and review of audio from Kilbourne’s body microphone and videos from cameras in the sally port. A request for those recordings/videos by the Dayton Daily News was denied by the city, saying they were part of the pending criminal investigation.

As the men 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 urging Kilbourne to “unhook” him so they could fight, Kunkleman wrote.

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.”

In his report on the incident obtained from court documents, Kilbourne wrote that the suspect was injured while he was attempting to gain control of him after he exited the police cruiser.

“(The man) jumped from the vehicle at me in an aggressive manner. I grabbed him, I was unable to place him against the wall due to equipment being placed against the wall,” he wrote. “I got (the man) to the rear of my vehicle and took him to the ground, when I got him to the ground some of the equipment fell hitting me in the head and landing on (the man’s) head cutting him.”

The suspect was taken to a hospital after the encounter before being jailed.

Kilbourne was accused of violating the police code of conduct through his treatment of the suspect and “repeatedly refers to (the suspect) coming out of the cruiser at him but that video clearly shows (the suspect) going past Ptl. Kilbourne as he exits the cruiser.”

Titterington wrote in the termination letter that Kilbourne’s statements and actions violated both city and police department policies.

“This conduct itself justifies termination,” Titterington wrote, noting that Kilbourne had previous discipline for similar misconduct that further supported the decision.

The previous incidents included a November 2008 letter of reprimand for use of force and written consultation for issues with use of force/tactics that occurred on two dates in December 2012 and again in January 2017, February 2017 and December 2020, McKinney said in his recommendation for termination.

Discipline is pending against two other officers in the sally port during the encounter, McKinney said. The investigation report said both “had a duty to intervene and that neither did” while the men were in the sally port.

All three officers also are accused of failing to properly report their uses of force during the incident. One of the two with pending discipline also was accused of conduct unbecoming for being seen on video smiling as Kilbourne taunted the suspect by making the crying noises.