Arbiter rules cop firing justified

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A Warren police officer with a history of domestic violence complaints and who once accidentally shot a fellow police officer will not get his job back after being fired in December, an arbiter ruled Thursday.

Arbitrator Mark I. Luried ruled Thursday that Jeffrey Miller, a 17-year police veteran, was justly fired Dec. 5 after he skipped a probation violation hearing on a reckless operation conviction that stemmed from a drunken driving arrest and was jailed for five days.

Miller argued he was never told about the hearing and police union attorneys argued it was the first official disciplinary action taken against Miller.

Miller was charged with drunken driving following a Sept. 22, 2011 accident in which he refused a breath test and initially lied about drinking. Miller initially denied drinking to Ohio State Highway Patrol Troopers but then supplied troopers with a written statement he drank two 24-ounce beers before driving.

He told then-Police Chief Tim Bowers he “shouldn’t have been driving” during a pre-disciplinary hearing. He violated probation and never showed up to court. He also never attended mandatory treatment programs ordered by Mahoning County Boardman Area Court Judge Joseph Houser.

Miller was never disciplined for the drunken driving charge and ensuing reckless operation conviction, the arbiter’s ruling says. He also was never officially reprimanded for multiple domestic violence arrests at his Weathersfield Township home in 2010 and 2011, according to the arbiter’s report.

In one instance, the report said, Miller threatened to kill himself and officers found pistols, empty beer cans and bottles and several prescription medication bottles.

None of the charges were ever prosecuted and he was never disciplined.

Miller, in 2002, accidentally shot fellow police officer Benny Harrell twice in the leg when the two responded to a burglary report. A police internal investigation revealed he was not criminally negligent.

Another officer, Sgt. Manny Nites, also is awaiting an arbitrator’s ruling after he too was fired in December for allegedly attending a fantasy football draft while on the job and then during a hearing allegedly lying about his involvement.

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