Todd Gauntner: Too Much To Tolerate
Jan. 26, 2016 (Mimesis Law) — In the police world in which I worked, officers know that if they messed up in certain ways, their career was over. No second chances, no mulligans, no do-overs. You were toast, stick a fork in it, done. That was just the way it was.
It’s also the way it should be.
There are certain things that if done by a police officer, render that officer unfit to wear a badge.
This is a story of one of those.
On November 26, 2015 at about 2:00 a.m., Euclid, Ohio police officer Todd Gauntner was intoxicated at Sims Park. He was upset, so with a gun in each hand, he started to shoot into the water of Lake Erie. The police, his fellow officers, were called and responded to the pier, finding Gauntner and an unidentified woman.
When asked how it was going, Gauntner replied, “not good.” Gauntner told an officer that he had been drinking, and that he was upset at the recent death of a family member.
Officers did not arrest him. Instead, they took him to the station for a breath test, and then to the hospital for an “evaluation.” In normal police lingo, that means a psychological or mental evaluation, not a physical.
On December 12, 2015, the city suspended Gauntner without pay for 90 days. That’s a positive step.
Gauntner was later charged with three crimes: Discharging a Firearm, a First Degree misdemeanor (180 days in jail, up to a $1,000 fine); Using a Weapon While Intoxicated, also a First Degree misdemeanor; and Criminal Trespass, a Fourth Degree misdemeanor (30 days, up to a $250 fine). He is set to be in the Euclid Municipal Court on February 18th, although the judge has recused herself from the case.
But now the other shoe has dropped.
The police chief has stated that Gauntner has been given a “last-chance” disciplinary agreement which would allow him to keep his job.
We have a saying down here in Texas about this type of thinking.
“Oh, hell no!”
When the local media asked about the agreement, the police refused to release it, because it contained medical records.
Chief Tom Brickman did say:
“This particular incident was discussed with the law department and legal representatives for the officer and the determination was made based on the circumstances, there would be a path for him to return to duty.”
I get it now. The police union and the officer’s attorney got involved, and saved this mutt’s job after he is shooting blindly out onto a lake, unable to determine if there are any boats downrange from him.
Oh, hell no! You don’t let him keep his job after that, you fire his ass.
Speaking of his attorney, that individual, Robert Phillips noted that:
“Did two tours of duty in Afghanistan….He’s going through a rough patch in life. He’s going through the protocol…to pull his life together.”
Oh, hell no!
Look, I’ll be the first to commend him for his service in Afghanistan. While I served for 20 years in the military and reserves, I never had to deploy. I never faced what he or my dad or thousands of others had to face, and I’ll always be there to stand up for what our veterans have done.
That does not, however, justify looking the other way for a public servant who does what he did. It does not justify keeping someone with those types of mental issues or thought processes on the street.
I’m sorry, but if you do something like that, you get fired. Then you can get help from the VA or other sources. But you don’t work as a cop any more.
You especially don’t let an officer who is convicted (which he has not yet been) of criminal acts remain a police officer.
Yeah, I know that other states allow that. Texas doesn’t. You get convicted, your state license to be a cop goes bye-bye, and with it, your job.
You don’t get a “last-chance.”
You get fired.
And you should be. And the public should not have to tolerate that type of behavior.