WARSAW — Information that came to light in Friday’s disciplinary recommending two Warsaw Police officers be suspended outlines numerous alleged efforts by them to obtain and share body cam video they apparently believed put Police Chief Scott Whitaker in a bad light.
Officers Jason Dobbins and Ross Minear each face 10-day suspensions without pay for a list of violations in connections to the sharing of body cam video involving Whitaker’s investigation of an apparent reckless driving incident on Jan. 25.
The city Board of Works and Safety accepted recommendations on Friday, March 8, from the police department to discipline officers Dobbins and Minear. They have five days to request a hearing on the matter.
Each officer is accused of violating the following rules and procedures: Neglect of duty, violating department rules, conduct unbecoming a police officer, breach of discipline and improper release of a recording without the police chief’s permission.
Individual summaries of discipline reports outlined by Sherwin Friday suggest both officers lied as the department investigated the alleged sharing of body cam video as other officers arrived to support Whitaker moments after Whitaker’s brief confrontation with the 74-year-old man in the man’s driveway on Chickadee Lane.
Whitaker contends he was trying to prevent the man from getting back into his vehicle. The man claims he was tackled. Whitaker claims the man’s legs gave out.
The report issued Friday suggests the officers thought the video might be worthwhile as blackmail against the chief and that one officer believed it might help in efforts to facilitate a change in administration.
The report contends: On Feb. 1, Minear used his cell phone to record a short portion of a body cam video, and then made a complete copy of the body cam footage on a DVD five days later. Both activities happened while he was on duty.
Minear was interviewed on Feb. 14 and was not truthful about the circumstances, the report said, but soon admitted he wanted the video “to have in his back pocket in case he got in trouble again.”
The report says Dobbins wanted a copy of the video, according to Minear, because Dobbins “wanted a change in the administration,” presumably in the police hierarchy.
Minear initially said he did not share the video, but later admitted to doing so. Investigators used police technology that tracks the location of officer’s squad cars to determine the officers met while on an overnight shift at 4:20 a.m., Feb. 7 for about 30 minutes — the same time Minear later admitted they watched the entire video and that Dobbins recorded it.
The report involving Dobbins details the officer’s denial that he sought to share it with City Councilman Michael Klondaris.
Dobbins said he did not know how Klondaris knew of the video and stated he received a call from Klondaris who was asking for the video. Dobbins stated he sent the video at the request of Klondaris.
Dobbins claimed he deleted the video from his phone, but then refused to let investigators look at his phone.
Police then interviewed Klondaris who said he was contacted by Dobbins on Feb. 2 and spoke of an incident involving Whitaker.
According to the report, Klondaris said Dobbins told him there were “other videos out there and they were going to be sent to news organizations.”
Klondaris showed investigators the 20-second video Dobbins sent him that had been taken with Dobbins’ phone and captured footage from a department computer screen, the report said.
The recommendations were approved by board members George Clemens and Jeff Grose Mayor. Thallemer recused himself from the review, saying he believes he may be called to testify if there is a hearing.
Whitaker issued a notice saying he distanced himself from the investigation.
Neither officer attended the board meeting.
View the official documents and body cam footage below: