Mentor PD Completes Investigation Into Off-Duty Officer Who Put Head In Bucket Of Urine
Mentor Police Chief Daniel Llewellyn recommended that the officer be suspended for two days; nine other officers who were present received written reprimands
The Mentor Police Department has completed its investigation into an off-duty officer who put his head in a bucket of urine for $450 while tailgaiting outside of a Cleveland Browns game.
Ultimately, Mentor Police Chief Daniel Llewellyn recommended that Patrolman Phil Croucher be suspended for two days for "conduct unbecoming an officer." Llewellyn also said that Croucher should be ordered to attend an alcohol evaluation that would be arranged and paid for by the city.
Croucher could avoid one of those suspended days if he attends the evaluation and has no similar conduct for a year.
However, the proposed discipline has not been finalized as Croucher has appealed the suspension.
In his filed appeal, Croucher wrote, "The proposed discipline is without just cause."
Additionally, nine other Mentor police officers -- including one lieutenant and two sergeants -- received written reprimands from the department because they were there at the time of Croucher's dare and contributed $50 to the pot.
Those nine officers are Lt. Dan Molnar, Sgt. Dustin Richards, Sgt. Tim Nekic and Patrolmen Scott Bell, Bill Mackey, Richard Gerber, John Walker, Jason Myers and Chris Ivanovics.
According to the reprimands, the officers were told they participated in conduct unbecoming an officer, as well, by facilitating the incident. Molnar, Richards and Nekic were also admonished that they "should have taken a leadership role and stopped this situation as it was developing."
Another officer, Patrolman Mark Burton, had attended the game separately with his wife and happened on the officers while the dare was already in progress. He was not censured because he didn't contribute to the dare.
What happened before the game
The incident occurred before the Browns-Bengals game on Oct. 14 in Cincinnati.
Mentor Police Lt. Tom Powers interviewed all of the officers who were involved and this is what he said occurred that day in his inter-office memo summating his investigation:
The 10 aforementioned officers were playing cards before the game. There was a makeshift urinal nearby that other people were disassembling. It included a 5-gallon bucket that was filled with urine.
Nekic saw the bucket and jokingly asked what it would take for someone to stick their head in the bucket. Nekic told Powers that he specifically aimed the joke at Molnar because he knew him to be a "germaphobe."
Nekic then joked he would do it for $100 a person.
Croucher overheard the comment and said he would do it for $50 a person. Each of the nine other officers kicked in $50.
"After the collection, Croucher began packing back and forth, trying to decide whether or not to go ahead with it," Powers wrote. "During this time, a crowd began to gather around as the word circulated through the area."
People also began recording the proceedings with their cell phones, including Ivanovics and Walker. Ivanovics later deleted his video. Meanwhile, Walker did not focus on Croucher. Instead, he filmed the reactions of his coworkers, specifically Molnar who was known by the other officers to be a germaphobe.
None of the officers posted any videos or photos of the incident online. That was done by other bystanders, Powers said.
Some of the crowd egged Croucher on while others told him not to do it.
In fact, Walker's video shows Molnar repeatedly telling Croucher not to do it, Powers said.
A countdown began by people in the crowd who were not officers, Powers said. When the crowd reached zero, Croucher dunked his head in the bucket.
Powers said that none of the officers present committed any crime. However, they did violate the department's code of conduct by doing something that was unbecoming of an officer.
Of Croucher, Powers wrote, "As a result of his actions, he has brought the department into disrepute and reflects discredit upon himself as a member of the department. It is important to remember that, although he said he did it for the money, he is ultimately responsible for his decisions and actions."
Llewellyn did not recommend suspensions for any of the other officers who received reprimands. However, Molnar was on probationary status as a lieutenant and his probation was extended until January 2014.
None of the officers who were reprimanded, including Croucher, have any previous instances of documented discipline in their personnel file, Powers said.