MORE

Maplewood officer fired for offering to buy alcohol, vibrator for 19-year-old he met on-duty

Officer Kevin Coffey's union contested his firing, but his termination was recently upheld by an arbitrator.
Officer Kevin Coffey's union contested his firing, but his termination was recently upheld by an arbitrator.

An arbitrator has upheld the firing of Maplewood police officer Kevin Coffey, a 10-year veteran of the force who lost his job for creepily flirting with and harassing a 19-year-old he met on-duty last summer.

SEE ALSO: Police Chief Zeb Hemsworth won't lose job for "scum sucking baby killing bitch" rant

According to public documents, Coffey met the woman last August 27, when he responded to a report that a man she knew had thrown a rock at her car. Officer Coffey admits that the initial conversation between the woman and himself became somewhat flirtatious, but, contra all the evidence, he denies the city's contention that things apparently spiraled in an outrageously inappropriate direction from there.

Here, from the arbitrator's ruling, is the city's version of events:

On August 27, 2012, a 19 year-old woman called the Maplewood Police Department because a man threw a rock at her car. At approximately 8 p.m. the Maplewood Police Department dispatched Officer Kevin Coffey to take her criminal damage to property report. The complainant had never met Officer Coffey. While Officer Coffey was taking the report, the complainant referred to the male who had thrown rock as "Pussy Boy". While Officer Coffey continued to take the complaint, Officer Coffey contends, the complainant told him that she thought he was good looking. By Officer Coffey's own testimony, "the conversation became flirtatious"... "The two discussed the possibility of going on a date to a casino, and [the complainant] volunteered that she could arrange to get a free hotel room at the Grand Casino in Hinckley."... "Mr. Coffey and [the complainant] also talked about [the] possibility [of] having sex."

"Mr. Coffey contends that [the complainant] was an active participant throughout this conversation--she never appeared uncomfortable or threatened, and she never gave Mr. Coffey any reason to think she did not like the attention he was giving her."... "[The complainant] expressed an interest in meeting with Mr. Coffey later that night."... "Mr. Coffey cleared the call at about 9:15 p.m."

The City of Maplewood and the complainant content that Mr. Coffey "began talking to complainant about matters of a personal sexual nature. [Mr. Coffey] told complainant that with her body and attitude she should be become a stripper and he would like the first dance. Complainant had no interest in [Mr. Coffey] and his advances had upset her and made her feel uncomfortable."

Later that same evening of August 27, 2012, Mr. Coffey began calling and texting complainant saying that she should meet him after he/she was done working. Mr. Coffey suggested that the complainant meet him behind Hill-Murray High School, which is a dark and secluded location.

The complainant testified that she thought that she and Mr. Coffey were going to talk about her case. However the complainant testified that Mr. Coffey starting talking about going to casinos and again asked pointed and sexually charged questions. The complainant testified at the arbitration hearing:

He started asking me questions that I didn't know--I didn't feel comfortable answering so I lied. He asked me what my favorite sexual position was. I said I didn't know. He asked me if there was anything sexually I wouldn't do or hadn't done. I said I didn't know. He asked me if I enjoyed giving or receiving oral sex. I said no. He asked me if I had ever had anal sex, and if I would be open to it, and I said no. He asked me if I came easily. I said I didn't know. He asked me if I had a vibrator. I said no. And he said that we would have to go shopping for that, but I would have to let him see me use it. He said - well, after that I started gearing towards trying to leave because it was awkward and uncomfortable and scary.
The complainant testified, "And I was in my car going to leave and he came up to my window and tickled my knee and told me that he was excited and intrigued. And then I went home that night."

The complainant testified at the arbitration hearing she felt "[s]urreal. It was just uncomfortable, and I didn't know--I didn't know how to feel. I didn't, you know, how to react."

The next day, the woman says she texted Coffey and told him she wanted nothing to do with him. He allegedly responded with a text saying, "U owe me now!"

Then, on September 3, Coffey pulled the 19-year-old woman over as she left her job in Maplewood. He said she didn't signal a left turn, but the city says video from his squad car clearly shows her signaling the turn. Coffey allegedly stopped his squad's audio and video recording equipment -- a violation of city policy -- and approached the woman's car. The arbitration document tells the story from there.

(Click to page two for more.)

 

From the document:

The complainant testified that at the time of the stop on September 3, 2012, she was talking to her father on the phone. She testified that she knew it was Officer Coffey and she "was terrified when he pulled her over."... She further testified that her father told her to leave the phone on. Her father testified at the arbitration hearing that he was also "terrified". He asked her to remain on the line. She put the phone under leg so that Mr. Coffey could not see the phone.

Mr. Coffey testified he approached her car and told her not to look so scared, he didn't care about the blinker. [Id. at 2]. She testified she told Mr. Coffey at that time she did not want him to text her.

On September 5, the woman and her father went to the Maplewood police station to file a report about the inappropriate interactions with Coffey. A week later, the woman, with the help of a lieutenant and two sergeants, conducted a sting operation in hopes of proving some of her allegations. Once again, Coffey and the woman met in a dark, secluded location between Hill-Murray High School. The arbitration document tells the story from there:

Mr. Coffey arrived at Hill-Murray about 9:40 p.m. on the evening of... September 12, 2012. The complainant arrived a short time later. The meeting lasted about 25 minutes. It had been the intent of Lieutenant Doblar to tape record the meeting through the Orion LETS Audio surveillance system. However, because of a mistake setting up the system, no tape recording was rendered, but the conversation could be overheard by the listening parties. Lieutenant Doblar, Sergeant Dugas and Sergeant Nye monitored the conversation between Mr. Coffey and the complainant from a nearby, remote location. "The two met behind Hill-Murray again, where [Mr. Coffey] began talking about going to the casinos, buying complainant a vibrator, and providing her alcohol. [Mr. Coffey] warned complainant that they would have to be careful, as he was a police officer and he could get into trouble since she was a minor. Lieutenant Doblar, Sergeant Michael Dugas and Sergeant Michael Nye were all listening to this conversation through the city cell phone the complainant was carrying. The complainant and all three of these officers said both in the written statements and testified under oath that they heard [Mr. Coffey] make these statements."

Following the sting, the city fired Coffey in a letter sent to him on November 6. For an excerpt of that letter, which was penned by Police Chief David Thomalla, click to page three.

 

From Chief Thomalla's letter to Coffey:

You admitted to conversing with a citizen with whom you were supposed to be conducting official city business, about going on a date to a casino and discussing with the citizen whether she would be OK if anything sexual arose out of the encounter. Additionally, your requests to meet the citizen behind a closed and dark area of Hill-Murray High School are not the types of conduct that portray a high standard of professional behavior that is expected of city employees.

The statements you made during your last contact (again while on-duty and in uniform) with the citizen, about providing alcohol and getting a vibrator for her, constitutes immoral, indecent, and offensive conduct. You conspired to commit a gross-misdemeanor by offering to provide alcohol to an underage citizen and then acted deceptively and untruthfully under Garrity by alleging you did not recall this conversation. This type of conduct violates city professional conduct rules, police department code of conduct rules, and constitutes insubordination for being untruthful...

You also sent numerous 6 personal texts to the citizen about going to casino's and about her being too young to legally drink. You indicated how you would "think it would be awesome and would guarantee her that she would have fun". Your obvious conflict of interest is clearly evident in the connotations of your text messages to the citizen by referring to the male suspect who threw a rock at her vehicle as "Pussy Boy."...

Based on your action and the findings of this investigation, I am recommending to the City Manager that your employment with the Maplewood Police Department be terminated.

But Coffey's union, the Law Enforcement Labor Service, contested his termination, arguing that because the recording gear failed during the September 12 sting operation, the city had no firm evidence of inappropriate conduct.

On July 12, arbitrator Joseph Daly ruled on the city's behalf. In the ruling, Daly argues that while some of the evidence is of a "he said/she said" nature, "the preponderance of evidence for the evening of the September 12, 2012, is not 'he said/she said.'"

"The complainant, Lieutenant Doblar, Sergeant Dugas, and Sergeant Nye all heard the entire or parts of the conversation through the city cell phone the complainant was carrying," Daly's ruling said. "The complainant and each of the three police officers said, in their written statements and in their testimony under oath at the arbitration hearing, that they heard the grievant make statements related to a vibrator, alcohol, and sex,"

"On September 12, 2012 Mr. Coffey violated the law, policy and procedures and the City of Maplewood has been shown by clear and convincing evidence just 25 cause to uphold his termination," Daly concluded.

-- Follow Aaron Rupar on Twitter at @atrupar. Got a tip? Drop him a line at arupar@citypages.com.


Sponsor Content

Newsletters

All-access pass to top stories, events and offers around town.

Sign Up >

No Thanks!

Remind Me Later >