YPD officer’s punishment reduced in drunk-driving traffic stop incident

john kelty youngstown, ohio police officer

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – WKBN has exclusive details about disciplinary action against a Youngstown Police officer.

In December, John Kelty filed a grievance after being suspended for five days and demoted from lieutenant to patrolman for his role in a drunk-driving case involving the brother of another officer.

Tuesday, an arbitrator determined that while Kelty was guilty of violating several department policies, he was found not guilty on a charge of dishonesty. The arbitrator also changed Kelty’s penalty to a one-rank demotion, from lieutenant to sergeant, instead of the two-level reduction originally made.

City lawyers have not made a decision about whether or not they will appeal the arbitrator’s ruling.

On December 22, the Youngstown Police Department announced that three officers would be suspended and a fourth would lose pay in connection with a Nov. 28 traffic stop in which investigators allege that officers failed to file a drunk-driving charge against the brother of a YPD lieutenant.

According to results of an internal investigation obtained by WKBN, Kelty was suspended for five days without pay and originally demoted to the rank of police officer for his role in the incident.

Officer Thomas Wisener and Lt. Gerard Slattery were suspended for 15 and 10 days without pay, respectively, and officer Assad Chaibi lost his pay for four hours of accumulated time.

According to police reports, Wisener pulled over Joseph Slattery, 54, the brother of Lt. Slattery, on the night of Nov. 28 along Mahoning Avenue for running a traffic light.

Wisener, who made the stop, said he found an open can of beer on the floor of the car. Slattery received citations for failing to obey the red light and having an open container of alcohol in his vehicle.

Documents included in the investigation results show that Joseph Slattery had a blood-alcohol content of 0.136% when tested that night. Ohio’s legal limit is .08%.

According to the investigation, Wisener said that he called Kelty, who told him to charge Joseph Slattery with have an open container of alcohol and running a red light. Wisener said he wrote a police report that was not completely true to match up with those charges.

The investigation found significant differences between the descriptions of the incident by Wisener and Kelty, each saying that the other was responsible for not filing the OVI charge. A polygraph test showed deception for Kelty’s responses when he was asked if he told Wisener not to charge Slattery and showed no deception on the part of Wisener when asked the same questions.

According to the investigation, Gerard Slattery expressed his displeasure with Wisener to Kelty after receiving a call from his brother about the possible OVI charge. Slattery also picked up his brother’s car without paying the towing fee, a violation of the YPD code of conduct, the report found.

Chaibi placed the test results for the blood alcohol content testing machine in a shred bin, according to the internal investigation report. The report also states that Kelty allowed Chaibi to do this, along with allowing Joseph Slattery’s car to be released to his brother and ordering the deletion of the tow report for the car.

YPD Lt. Brian Butler, who sent the report to YPD Chief Robin Lees, made five recommendations based on the results of the investigation:

  • A camera should be installed in YPD’s BAC room
  • Lt. Slattery should pay for the towing of his brother’s car.
  • Towing companies that work with YPD should get a memo from the chief’s office stating that vehicles are only to be released after receiving a request in writing from an authorized representative from the police department.
  • An administrating officer should keep and document all BAC test results, whether or not charges are filed.
  • Joseph Slattery should be charged with OVI.

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