Officers dispute list meant to keep cops honest

Thirteen officers have been fired or resigned in recent years for alleged violations related to untruthfulness and falsification. CORNELIUS FROLIK / STAFF
Thirteen officers have been fired or resigned in recent years for alleged violations related to untruthfulness and falsification. CORNELIUS FROLIK / STAFF

Since 2008, 13 Dayton police officers have been fired or resigned while facing termination after being accused of falsifications or being untruthful, and all 13 are listed on a document the department provides to prosecutors in case any of the former officers are called to testify in court.

City officials say the process is needed because falsification is a serious offense that warrants immediate termination, and that the list is required because officers’ honesty cannot be in question if they are ever called to testify. But some of the officers dispute the accusations that they lied and say the existence of the list has prevented them from getting other jobs in law enforcement.

“When a police officer is found to be dishonest it invalidates the trust placed in that officer and if not addressed it can erode the public’s trust in the department and profession,” said Dayton police Lt. Col. Matt Carper, deputy director and assistant chief of police.

The list of officers accused of lying or misstatements is known as a Brady list, or a Giglio list. They are named after U.S. Supreme Court cases that require prosecutors to disclose information favorable to any accused and evidence that could impeach the credibility of government witnesses, including law enforcement.

Several former Dayton police officers say it seems the police department has wrongly and unfairly placed them on the list and is jeopardizing their ability to find other law enforcement jobs. One former officer has sued over being placed on and the list. A few officers said they did not lie and were fired because their supervisors wanted them gone for other reasons.

“My contention is that the listing is arbitrary and a violation of Ohio’s constitutional due process clause because the officers on the list were not even notified that they were being put on the list,” said attorney V. Ellen Graham Day.

Day represents former police Sgt. Tonina Lamanna, who has sued the city and police department over her name allegedly appearing on a Brady list.

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The Dayton Police Department says termination is the penalty when officers are dishonest. CORNELIUS FROLIK / STAFF
The Dayton Police Department says termination is the penalty when officers are dishonest. CORNELIUS FROLIK / STAFF

Brady, Giglio

A September memo, obtained by the Dayton Daily News from a Dayton police lieutenant with the Professional Standards Bureau, states that 15 police officers have been found guilty of violating rules of conduct for untruthfulness or falsification since 2008.

The memo was by police Lt. Eric Sheldon and sent to Montgomery County Prosecutor Mat Heck in response to that office’s request for Brady rule and Giglio information from local law enforcement agencies.

Brady and Giglio refer to U.S. Supreme Court cases that require prosecutors to disclose information favorable to the accused and evidence that could impeach the credibility of government witnesses, including law enforcement.

The Dayton Police Department’s Professional Standards Bureau generates information about officers who may have credibility issues in court because of criminal offenses or departmental administrative violations on their records, according to Sheldon’s memo, entitled “Brady rule and Giglio information quarterly report.”

Nine of the Dayton officers listed on the Brady/Giglio report were fired and four resigned pending termination for violations related to untruthfulness and falsification, the memo says.

One other officer was suspended but not terminated, and another is on extended military leave but his disposition is pending.

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Dayton police at a city commission meeting. CORNELIUS FROLIK / STAFF
Dayton police at a city commission meeting. CORNELIUS FROLIK / STAFF

Police Lt. Kimberly Hall and officer Dakota Delver both resigned in 2020 after being accused of police code of conduct violations, according to the memo.

The Dayton Daily News reviewed both of their personnel files. Delver’s file only had six pages of documents, none of which contained information about his resignation.

Delver told this newspaper he resigned after being investigated for inaccurately recalling an altercation he was involved in.

He said he was not found guilty of lying but he was given the option to resign or be fired.

Delver said he chose to resign and was told he would be able to work at any other police agency.

But Delver said a “dream job” he lined up fell through and other agencies disqualified him for open positions because they learned he was on the city of Dayton’s Brady list. Delver said previously he was unaware such a list existed and the police department told him they didn’t have one.

“I only resigned in hopes to continue working in law enforcement and I was lied to,” he said. “I do wish to move forward with a lawsuit for this.”

In June, Lt. Kim Hill, who was the highest ranking black female on the police department at the time, signed a separation agreement after being charged with a variety of civil service violations, according to disciplinary documents in her personnel file.

Hill was accused of giving false statements during an investigation this spring into whether she drove her city vehicle home for extended periods during the work day, the charging document states.

Hill allegedly was absent from her assignments for more than 90 hours over the course of about 20 days between March and April, and also she allegedly missed entire shifts multiple days in a row.

Hill filed a federal discrimination lawsuit against the police department a few years ago, alleging unlawful mistreatment. Her lawsuit was dismissed, but she appealed.

Hill’s separation agreement says she will agree to dismiss the appeal.

Hill’s attorney did not return a request for comment, but the separation agreement also says Hill agrees not to make any statements to the press.

Dayton police officers in downtown Dayton. CORNELIUS FROLIK / STAFF
Dayton police officers in downtown Dayton. CORNELIUS FROLIK / STAFF

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Firings, resignations in 2019

Last year, the police department discharged officers Jordan Wortham and Michael Storehalder, and Officer Zechariah Griffith resigned.

Storehalder was accused of being untruthful during an investigation into a loaded handgun found in his police vehicle during a routine inspection, according to a memo from police Chief Richard Biehl in his personnel file.

Biehl’s memo states Storehalder did not properly search a suspect he arrested and placed into the back of his police cruiser. He failed to properly pat down the suspect before taking him to jail and did not check his vehicle after the suspect was removed, the memo states.

Storehalder was discharged through a probationary release for allegedly providing false information about his actions during an interview and in a special report.

Storehalder, 35, told this newspaper he did not lie in his report or his verbal statements to his supervisor and he did not deserve to be discharged.

He said he gave his supervisor a basic narrative of what happened when he responded to a call of someone firing a gun in a park that led to an arrest.

Storehalder said his supervisor then instructed him to write a special report about what transpired.

Storehalder, who was nearing the end of his probationary period, said his supervisor’s report of their conversation contained inaccurate information that did not reflect what he actually said.

He said he was never asked to clarify the statements in his report or what he told his supervisor. He said he admitted to failing to complete a thorough search, which normally is not a fireable offense because “multiple people have done it before.”

He said he thinks he may have been accused of lying because the penalty is termination and they wanted to get rid of him.

Storehalder said it’s been hard finding another job in law enforcement because he was accused of lying. He said he still wants to clear his name.

“If they are going to make a public statement about somebody like that that can affect their entire livelihood, they should make more of an investigation to be positive that it happened,” he said.

Dayton’s city manager and police chief recommended discharging officer Wortham in September of last year after he allegedly made false statements during a Professional Standards Bureau interview in May 2019, according to disciplinary documents in his personnel file.

Wortham, who joined the city as a police recruit in 2012, was accused of lying in the interview about whether he had said “get your ass over here” in an earlier incident, disciplinary records state. Documents in his file do not indicate why he made that statement, but he was disciplined not for the statement but because he was accused of lying about it.

Wortham has filed multiple Ohio Civil Rights Commission complaints against the department since 2018, according to a spokesperson for the commission.

One case was closed but was transferred to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission for investigation, the spokesperson said.

Jordan Wortham at a Dayton City Commission meeting several years ago. CORNELIUS FROLIK / STAFF
Jordan Wortham at a Dayton City Commission meeting several years ago. CORNELIUS FROLIK / STAFF

Wortham told this newspaper his civil rights were violated. He said he was never terminated and the city has offered him severance packages contingent on his signing a non-disclosure agreement, which he has declined to do.

“I made complaints of racism within the Dayton Police Department,” he said. “As a consequence, they created any rationale to force me out. I refuse to try my case in the media.”

He recently appeared before the Dayton Civil Service Board for a dismissal hearing.

Griffith’s personnel file only had a resignation form, signed in early August, saying he was quitting for “personal reasons.” He did not comment when contacted by this newspaper via social media.

Day, Lamanna’s attorney, says she’s seen disciplinary logs that indicate that some Dayton police officers who were disciplined for dishonesty are still employed by the department and are not on the Brady list.

She said discipline should be commensurate with the offense and uniformly applied, but that isn’t happening and her client has been unable to find work in her field because her name unfairly was put on the Brady list.

“The city has had a good reputation of treating employees fairly,” Day said. “My fear is that someone went off the tracks with this Brady listing that has deprived good cops an opportunity to work anywhere.”

Public defender weighs in

Theresa Haire, the Montgomery County Public Defender, said only one of dozens of attorneys in her office knew about the existence of Brady or Giglio reports before being contacted by the Dayton Daily News.

And, she said, the attorney who was aware of the report learned about it for the first time in early November.

Haire said defense laywers must be able to know whether an officer has been disciplined for lying or not turning over evidence because the system’s default presumption is that police are credible and defendants are not.

“If a judge or jury is presented with evidence that the officer has previously lied about key facts in an investigation, it at least levels the proverbial playing field for their credibility determinations,” she said.

Haire said her office applauds Montgomery County Prosecutor Heck for reminding local law enforcement that they need provide the prosecutor with evidence favorable to the defendant.

Law enforcement often makes an early determination of guilt in criminal cases and deems irrelevant other evidence that does not support their narrative, she said.

“Because they don’t see potentially exculpatory evidence as important to their theory of guilt, it is ignored, which means additional evidence that could be helpful to the defense is not turned over to the prosecutors,” Haire said.

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