Chief Fired After Admitting He Faked Shooting

PERRYSVILLE, Ohio (AP) - A police chief was fired Monday for covering up an accidental shooting by claiming an assailant shot him.

The five-member Perrysville village council voted unanimously to fire Tim Sommer, the only full-time officer, effective immediately, Mayor Renee Mott said.

Sommer, 52, had admitted to investigators that he shot himself in the leg while staging a traffic stop to cover up an earlier accidental shooting, Ashland County Sheriff Wayne Risner has said.

"It was a dishonest act," Mott said. "It caused panic."

The village has asked its four part-time officers, who work for the village only when schedules on their other jobs permit, not to report for now, Mott said. That includes the part-time acting chief, Brian McCauley.

"Right now the department is closed so that we can rebuild and go from there," she said, adding the village hopes to reopen the department "soon."

Until then, Ashland sheriff's deputies will serve the community about 60 miles northeast of Columbus, Mott said.

Sommer did not attend Monday night's meeting, Mott said, and the village will not formally notify him.

"He chose not to come" to the meeting, she said. "He knew what was on the agenda."

Sommer has not been at work since the shooting March 19.

There was no answer Monday night at the police station, and Sommer's home number had a busy signal.

Risner's investigation concluded that after Sommer accidentally fired a shot through his cruiser's windshield in the police garage, he drove to a rural road and staged a traffic stop.

While reloading his gun, Sommer accidentally shot himself in the leg, Risner said. Sommer told investigators he had been shot by a man he pulled over for driving without license plates.

Last week, Morrow County Prosecutor Greg Perry said that Sommer had pleaded guilty there to misdemeanor theft in 1992, stemming from charges that he misused a Morrow County Sheriff's Department credit card. Sommer served a six-month jail term.

The Ashland Times-Gazette reported Friday that Sommer lied in his interview for the Perrysville job, by covering up his conviction and his reason for quitting the Morrow County department. He also said his wages never had been garnished, but they had been twice under separate 1990 court orders in two counties, the newspaper said.

Village officials were not aware of the earlier incidents, but that did not affect the firing, Mott said.

"We just made our decision based on the incident that occurred on March 19," she said.

(Copyright 2002 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)