By JOHN W. GOODWIN JR.
A city police officer accused of beating a handicapped man is on medical leave after collapsing on the job.
Police Chief Jimmy Hughes said Officer Robert Jolliff, a 15-year veteran, collapsed while working Wednesday and was taken to an area hospital.
Hughes was unsure of Jolliff’s status as of late Thursday afternoon but said the officer is on medical leave from the department.
Willie Daniel, 36, of High Street, paralyzed from the waist down, has accused Jolliff of repeatedly punching and hitting him in the head with a bottle after a traffic accident in February. Jolliff also is accused of leaving the man lying in the snow with his pants down, exposing an adult diaper he was wearing.
City officials have refused to release internal-affairs reports detailing findings in Daniel’s allegations against Jolliff, including witness statements from officers at the scene, because the investigation continues.
The city, however, did release Jolliff’s disciplinary file. The file shows that since 2001, Jolliff has been accused of using excessive force several times as well as conduct unbecoming an officer, making a false arrest and neglect of duty.
The department, however, deemed several of the allegations as either unfounded or unsubstantiated.
A 22-year-old North Side man in September 2009 told authorities that Jolliff sprayed him unnecessarily with pepper spray during an incident on Ohio Avenue. The man was being arrested for obstructing official business and resisting arrest.
Jolliff explained the man was combative during the arrest process. Internal-affairs investigators found that Jolliff used reasonable force in administering the pepper spray.
In 2008, a 35-year-old Lyden Street man complained after Jolliff responded to his home in regard to a domestic situation. The man said Jolliff sprayed him with pepper spray, cursed him and pushed him in the throat area. Several witnesses said Jolliff shoved the man’s mother to the ground during the incident.
An internal-affairs investigation concluded that the allegations were “unsustained.” The investigation showed that the man was aggressive, and the woman, who was interfering with police business, was being escorted back to her home and likely suffered a seizure and fell.
In 2004, a 23-year-old East Side woman told police she tapped Jolliff on the shoulder to ask a question during an altercation on Fairgreen Avenue and was thrown to the ground. The woman told internal affairs that Jolliff put his knees in her back and screamed in her face, then kicked another woman who tried to explain the situation.
Jolliff, in his response to the complaint, said the woman grabbed his arm and tried to prevent him from entering a part of the house where officers were conducting an investigation. He said the woman’s actions resulted in a scuffle between the two and the woman’s subsequent arrest.
Jolliff’s file does not indicate a resolution for the 2004 complaint by IAD.
Hughes has said the department will conduct a thorough investigation into the most recent allegations made by Daniel.
“Multiple complaints against any one officer could raise a red flag for department officials, but those complaints must be evaluated on an individual basis,” the chief said.
“I have not looked at the [previous] complaints, but my understanding is that we could not put anything on him other than that the complaints were made and those complaints have been investigated thoroughly,” the chief said.
Hughes said it is also important to note that any unsubstantiated claim against an officer cannot be held against the officer after one year.
Any substantiated claim cannot be held against an officer after two years, he said.