LYNWOOD | Attorneys for a police officer who faces dismissal because his squad car was stolen and wrecked by a criminal suspect say the village’s Fire and Police Board violated the law by keeping the officer on unpaid leave since mid-March.
Joe Marigliano, a patrol officer, has not been paid for his duties since March 11. Christopher Cooper, an attorney provided to Marigliano by the Fraternal Order of Police, said the law only permits an unpaid leave to last up to 30 days.
“This is a man trying to support a family, and he’s not getting paid,” said Cooper. “This is a hardship being made worse by the way this case is dragging on.”
The police board held hearings last month, and found Marigliano to be at fault for an incident that occurred on Dec. 11, 2012, when the Lynwood officer got out of his car and tried to chase a criminal suspect down on foot.
Village officials say Marigliano ought to lose his job because he left his keys in his squad car and a car door open without engaging a lock-out switch that would have made it impossible for someone else to drive away in the vehicle.
But Cooper on Friday said the suspect was able to double-back and take the squad car because Marigliano’s attention became diverted during the foot chase when he saw another officer injured.
“I think this sends a very sad message, that a police officer is supposed to ignore an injured colleague,” Cooper said. The suspect ultimately was caught following a brief car chase, although the Lynwood squad car was damaged beyond repair.
Cooper filed a complaint on Friday that says Marigliano must have his pay resumed while the police board proceedings take place.
Timothy Lapp, an attorney for the police board, sent Cooper an email message saying the grievance will be ruled on when the police board meets again, although Lapp told The Times that such an issue would have to be determined by the Village Board and not the police board.
“That’s not an issue for ‘fire and police’ to deal with,” Lapp said.
As of now, a hearing is scheduled for 6 p.m. Monday at the Village Hall, 21460 Lincoln Highway, when the police board may determine whether or not Marigliano still has a job with the village’s Police Department.
However, Cooper said that outside of one continuation he asked for early in the process, he says that Lynwood village officials are dragging out the process. Specifically citing Village President Eugene Williams, Cooper said, “Willams does not want to adhere to the law.”
Williams declined to comment, saying only, “I don’t know anything about that. Everything I know is what I read in the (news)papers.”
While Lapp said police board officials have been ready for some time to resolve this case. “We’ve been prepared to go on with this for a long time.”