Ohio officer fired after traffic stop involving daughter's boyfriend
A Lorain, Ohio police officer was fired after investigators say he pulled over his daughter's boyfriend, detained him in the backseat of a patrol car and threatened him with jail while ignoring a call to respond to a road rage incident on April 16, The Chronicle-Telegram reported.
The officer, patrolman John Kovach, is appealing the decision, according to the paper.
Police say Kovach tracked his daughter's laptop to one of her friend's houses and pulled over a car near the house, according to Fox 8. The driver of that car was his daughter's boyfriend, and the friend was a passenger in the car. His daughter was in the backseat, although Kovach told investigators he didn't know that at the time, according to the station.
Dashcam video shows Kovach walking over to the driver door and opening it. "You can get out," he says.
"For what?" the driver say.
"You're going to jail," Kovach says. "For what?" the driver says.
"Get out," Kovach says. "For what?" the driver says again.
"Have a seat in my car, we'll make s*** up as we go," Kovach says, as the driver gets out of the car and walks over to Kovach's car. Kovach asks if the driver has any weapons or drugs, but the answer is inaudible. Kovach says, "Go ahead, get smart. Or I can do something to you, even more."
The driver sits in the back seat of the patrol car, and Kovach walks back to the car and asks the passenger if her mother is home. Kovach walks out of frame.
Kovach asks the mother whether his daughter is in their house. She tells him no, and he threatens to jail her if he searches the house and finds her inside.
He then tells her that her daughter is getting a ticket for not wearing a seat-belt, and she tells him to come back with a warrant if he wants to search her home. The mother leaves, then comes back and argues with Kovach, accusing him of ticketing her daughter for personal reasons.
"You want to ticket my daughter because you think your daughter is in my house," she says. Kovach maintains that the girl was not wearing her seat-belt. He threatens her with jail for being "disorderly" and then later says, "You're obstructing me, this is your last warning." She leaves, saying she's calling 911.
Kovach then realizes his daughter isn't in the house - she's in the back of the car he pulled over. He tells her to come with him and she leaves the car.
"Goodbye," he tells the driver, who has been sitting in the back of his patrol car. Kovach tells his daughter to get in the driver's place, but she objects, saying she is 18 and an adult.
"Why are you taking me? You have to give me a reason by law," she says before screaming, "Why are you pushing me? What are you f****** pushing me? Why are you doing this?"
After arguing with her and the driver, Kovach says he's taking her to the hospital because "she said she was gonna kill herself Friday." His daughter vehemently denies it from the backseat, "No I didn't! I did not!"
The two drive off and the video ends.
Police say while the incident was unfolding, Kovach had been called to respond to a road rage incident but did not go, The Chronicle-Telegram reported. Kovach said he asked about the call but was told he was not needed, according to the paper.
Kovach told investigators he believed his daughter was suicidal, according to the Morning Journal. He also told investigators the daughter's boyfriend had a misdemeanor marijuana charge and had allegedly posted on social media he would prostitute his daughter if the two needed money, according to the paper.
Kovach was fired on May 11 after a complaint and investigation. "These actions are not acceptable for members of our Police Department and we felt it warranted immediate dismissal," Safety-Service Director Dan Given told The Chronicle-Telegram.
Police chief Cel Rivera also called the actions "an abuse of police authority and a serious departure from appropriate protocol…they are contrary to the mission, values and policies of the Lorain Police Department," according to the paper.
But Kovach is fighting the dismissal and will present his case before a neutral arbiter, according to The Morning Journal.
"Officer Kovach is contesting his termination through the grievance procedure and is being afforded all of his contractual rights,” Fraternal Order of Police Lodge # 3 president Kyle Gelenius told the paper. “Because the Collective Bargaining Agreement stipulates that disciplinary procedures are private, I will reserve my comments until after the case has been decided. Nonetheless, Officer Kovach is looking forward to presenting his side of the story to a neutral arbitrator this coming September, when the arbitration is scheduled. We do not intend to try this discharge case in the media.”