By JOHN W. GOODWIN JR.
Two former city police officers fired for their alleged roles in the beating of a paralyzed man in February are fighting to get their jobs back.
Robert Joliff and Jay Fletcher were fired earlier this month after a police department investigation into the beating of Willie Daniel after a traffic accident. Daniel, 36, of High Street, is paralyzed from the waist down.
Police Chief Jimmy Hughes said Fletcher and Joliff have sent letters of appeal to the office of Mayor Jay Williams saying the decision to terminate was too Harsh. A hearing has been set for Tuesday.
Hughes said Joliff was fired primarily because of his involvement in the alleged assault, and Fletcher was fired for failure to react properly at the scene as well as for prior disciplinary action.
Hughes explained the terminated officers have four steps in the grievance process. They can submit letters of appeal to their immediate supervisor, Hughes, the mayor’s office then go into binding arbitration for a final decision. The two officers chose to appeal to the mayor.
Should the officers not find satisfaction with the mayor’s decision, they can seek a decision from an arbitrator.
The matter could be taken to Mahoning County Common Pleas Court for a resolution after the arbitrator’s decision, but the chief said that is extremely rare.
Hughes said arbitrators, in his opinion, tend to favor the officer in situations such as these. Should the arbitrator rule for the officers, they could be awarded back pay for the time they have been off the job, the chief said.
Two other officers also could face reprimands in the matter. At issue in their case is what appears to be a delay in launching an investigation into Daniel’s claim that he was physically abused by Joliff at the scene of an accident.
Daniel was charged with reckless operation, driving while intoxicated and driving under suspension after the accident. He is due back in municipal court Aug. 9 on those charges.