Board upholds firing of Dayton police sergeant accused of lying

The Dayton Civil Service Board has affirmed the city’s firing of police Sgt. Tonina Lamanna, who was accused of lying about accessing personnel records of the police chief and another employee.

Lamanna, who was named a police officer in 2001, was discharged because of “untruthful” statements she made after being questioned about accessing the personnel information, city officials said.

The board ruled that her termination was appropriate because the evidence indicated she was untruthful, which is an extremely serious offense because it affects the effectiveness of police officers and the integrity of the department, according to the board’s decision issued this week.

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Lamanna’s attorney, Vince Popp, argued that Lamanna was targeted in retaliation by police supervisors for filing a federal lawsuit against the city and police department alleging sex discrimination.

The suit, which was filed in September 2016 and remains open, claims Lamanna was denied promotion to positions she was most qualified for and she was retaliated against for filing a Ohio Civil Rights Commission complaint.

In August, the Dayton Police Department launched an investigation to try to identify the source of a potential leak to the news media about police Chief Richard Biehl’s firearm having been stolen from his car, police officials testified at Lamanna’s hearing in December.

The Dayton Daily News had made a public records request related to the missing firearm that suggested someone inside the department had fed reporters information, police officials said.

Police said they did an audit of the department’s record system and discovered Lamanna had accessed the chief’s file.

But during an interview Lamanna denied looking at the chief’s information and claimed she had accessed the file of another officer, police said in the hearing.

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The record system audit indicated she had not looked at the other officer’s information, but it showed she had accessed the chief’s information multiple times, according to city attorneys and police officials.

In its decision, the Civil Service Board said Lamanna’s denials of accessing the personnel records were “mostly inconsistent, vague and confusing.”

Lamanna was accused and convicted of three civil service violations — any of which would be cause for termination — and the evidence presented at her hearing convincingly showed that the charges were valid, the board said.

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