By Ed Runyan
A Warren police officer who attended a fantasy-football party while he was supposed to be on duty has been fired for being “untruthful.”
Police Chief Tim Bowers fired Sgt. Emanuel Nites on Friday — the second officer Bowers fired this week.
He fired Patrolman Jeff Miller on Wednesday after Miller spent five days in jail on a probation violation stemming from a car accident. Miller appealed his termination Friday.
An internal-affairs investigation concluded that Nites attended the fantasy-football draft Aug. 27 at a fellow officer’s house for two hours or more while on the clock, failed to respond to a call for service and was untruthful during an internal-affairs investigation of the matter.
Nites was suspended earlier without pay for one day for attending the party.
In the termination letter, Bowers said Nites was untruthful while describing his participation in the fantasy-football draft. Nites said several off-duty officers “were doing their fantasy-football draft” and that Nites was invited, so he hung out for a while, “had a call [for service]” and ate food but “didn’t participate in the football.”
In reality, Nites didn’t respond to the call for service, Bowers said.
The call involved a domestic-violence complaint in which a woman said her ex-boyfriend had slashed her tires and was still in the area. A fellow officer responded to the call, but Nites did not. Eleven minutes after the call was dispatched, the other officer reported that the situation was under control and Nites didn’t need to respond.
“That’s a two-person call,” Bowers said.
A second internal-affairs investigation was conducted after an officer who was at the party told the city’s human-resources director that Nites had a team in the draft and stayed for the entire draft.
Interviews with officers who attended the draft indicated that Nites did not pick his fantasy football team that night. Instead, another officer handled the draft for him but did explain that evening how it worked.
In a fantasy football league, participants choose players from among real players and then follow them through the course of a season. The participant whose players are the most successful on the field win, usually cash.
Patrolman Jeff Orth told internal affairs that Nites didn’t pay the $50 fee to participate in the league that night, but Orth was “almost positive” he told Nites about the cost.
Bowers said he asked Nites whether Nites had been untruthful when he said he hadn’t participated in the fantasy-football draft, Nites questioned the term “participate,” then responded, “I did not pay a cent” when asked what it costs to participate in the fantasy-football league.
“You did purposely and knowingly deceive me,” Bowers said in the letter. “Your deception about your involvement in the fantasy football led me to incorrect conclusions of your activities and motives.”
“After listening to your explanation and considering all of the evidence, I find that you were untruthful, and your statement that you did not participate in the fantasy football on Aug. 27, 2012, was misleading,” Bowers wrote.
Bowers said Nites’ behavior in this matter as well as in 2009 when he was suspended without pay for three months for attending and coaching his children’s basketball games while on the clock, violates a “sacred trust.”
“All police officers are entrusted with a sacred trust, granted to them by the public they serve. The absolute cornerstones of this trust are personal integrity, personal honesty, personal honor and efficient service.”
“You committed these violations in the presence of five off-duty subordinate officers,” Bowers said of Nites’ actions at the draft.