Police

Village settles with officer

The Village reached a settlement earlier this month with a former Yellow Springs police officer over a claim he had filed with the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission (EEOC) last year over his right to continue working after acquiring a job-related disability. According to the terms of the settlement, the officer, Tim Knoth, agreed to abandon the EEOC claim, and the Village agreed to pay him $50,000. Village Council members approved the agreement in executive session at their Dec. 12 meeting.

Knoth had not worked as a Yellow Springs police officer since the Village found in May 2010 that he was unable to return to duty due to stress he experienced after two police-related incidents in 2007 and 2008, during which Knoth had discharged his weapon twice, killing a dog and injuring a local man. Over a six-month period in 2010, a Village consultant physician had evaluated Knoth twice and did not release him to return to work, according to Village Manager Mark Cundiff this week.

The Village continued to pay Knoth a wage continuation at his full-time salary from May 2010 through mid-February 2011 until his vacation, sick leave and personal leave had been utilized, resulting in a total of $41,248 of gross compensation, according to Village Finance Director Sharon Potter this week. During part of that period and from February through September 2011, Knoth also received between 72- and 66-percent of his full-time salary through the Village’s workman’s compensation program, totalling $25,600 in compensation, according to Potter’s figures. While the Village contended that $5,700 of the workman’s compensation was supposed to have been reimbursed to the Village, the settlement included a forgiveness of that debt, Cundiff said.

Knoth filed a claim with the EEOC earlier this year, after the Village told him for the second time that he was not able to return to work. According to the claim, Knoth had requested that he be reinstated as a police officer with “accommodations” regarding his disability. But Police Chief John Grote denied the request, stating that Knoth could return to work when the Village’s consultant physician agreed that he could perform at “100-percent” capacity. Knoth stated in the claim that he believed he had “been discriminated against based on my disability, in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act. of 1990.”

The Village began mediation with the EEOC over the summer, and then entered into negotiations with Knoth’s attorneys in October, reaching an agreement in ­December.

“Council discussed the issue in a couple of executive sessions, including the pros and cons of settling versus going to hearing, and Council decided it was in the best interest of the Village to pursue a settlement,” Cundiff said last week.

Knoth, who lives in Springboro, was hired as a full-time Yellow Springs officer in 1999. In an incident in February 2007, while chasing after a suspect Knoth was attacked by the suspect’s dog, which bit him in the head and arm before he shot and killed the dog. A year later, in January 2008, Knoth responded to a call about a disturbance caused by a local resident who was mentally unstable and whom Knoth had known for many years as an officer. Knoth found the suspect at an Omar Circle address, where he was in a rage and swinging a fire poker at Knoth’s head, at which point Knoth shot and injured the suspect. The Greene County prosecutor charged the suspect with felonious assault, and a routine Greene County Sheriff’s office investigation found that Knoth had followed proper procedure, according to a statement Captain Eric Spicer, head of the county’s criminal investigation department, made to the YS News in 2008.

“Clearly he acted appropriately; if he hadn’t done so, he could have been seriously injured or killed,” Spicer said at the time.

Following the shooting, Knoth was put on seven weeks of paid administrative leave for medical and counseling therapy recommended for officers after that type of incident, according to Police Chief John Grote at the time. In May 2008, he returned to duty. But nearly two years later, Knoth began experiencing “issues related to the shooting incidents,” Cundiff said last week. Knoth was again put on two weeks of paid administrative leave and medically evaluated for his ability to do his job, which he was found unable to do.

“Tim was a good officer, and he did a lot of work with local youth on bike safety,” Cundiff said. “But he was involved in some unfortunate incidents…and it’s important, especially with a public safety officer who’s carrying a badge and a gun, to make sure he was able to work. In the end, our doctor did not release him to return to duty.”

 

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