New charges against South Bend officer to be suspended, demoted for lying
SOUTH BEND -
An embattled South Bend Police officer is once again under the microscope. This time, Officer Jack Stilp's lawyer says it's for refusing to testify during a recent hearing in front of the Board of Public Safety.
It all started earlier this year when Police Chief Ron Teachman accused Stilp of lying on a police report and claiming a woman Stilp and another officer were sent to arrest on a warrant wasn't home, when she really was.
The board decided Wednesday Stilp violated the duty manual on that call and because of it, decided he’ll serve a 90 day, unpaid suspension and a 6 month demotion.
“These violations of the duty manual are serious in nature and implicate the integrity of the officer,” said Board of Public Safety President Laura Vasquez.
However, the board decided in a 3-2 vote the violations were not serious enough for Stilp to lose his job – something Teachman asked the board to consider.
“We’re talking about due process here,” Stilp’s lawyer, Douglas Grimes, told the board during the public comment period.
According to Grimes, he and Stilp were “prepared to accept” the suspension and temporary demotion, but they also said there’s a clear conflict of interest in the case because the board decided dates of the suspension and demotion would be determined by Teachman.
It’s unfair for Teachman to make that decision, Grimes said, because while Stilp waits for a different hearing, he’s allowed to be on administrative leave with pay.
The new allegation against Stilp stems from his testimony during his initial disciplinary hearing in October when Stilp refused to testify to the board under oath – citing his Fifth Amendment rights, Grimes said.
“I think it’s ridiculous,” the attorney continued. “They admit that he has a right to claim the Fifth Amendment privilege under the Constitution in an administrative hearing and that's what he did. Now they want to come back and charge him for having done so, which they admit that he had a right to do.”
That issue’s been set for hearing in front of the board in February.
WSBT 22 requested documentation from the city Wednesday through the Access to Public Records Act to confirm the new charges and see what discipline is recommended for Stilp this time. That request had not been fulfilled as of 4:30 p.m.
Meantime, the board is considering Stilp’s request to have the board make the suspension decision.
This is not the first time Stilp’s been in trouble. Former Interim Police Chief Chuck Hurley asked the board to fire Stilp in 2012 after Stilp talked to a local TV station and released an internal police document without permission.
Stilp went through a hearing for that and the board suspended him 5 days even though Hurley requested a 10 day suspension.
When asked by WSBT 22 if he feels as though Stilp has a target on his back, Grimes said he cannot address that.