3 Lorain police officers found guilty of gross misconduct, former lieutenant indicted
LORAIN, Ohio (WOIO) - Three Lorain police officers have been found guilty of employee gross misconduct, and a former lieutenant has been indicted by a Lorain County Grand Jury, according to the Lorain Police Department (LPD).
LPD said on Sept. 21, officers responded to a disturbance complaint in the 900 block of Broadway Avenue.
When they arrived, they learned that off-duty officer Sgt. Ken Zapolski had allegedly assaulted Officer Jesse Perkins and Lt. Tabitha Angello, who were both also off-duty, in the alley behind the establishment.
All parties initially declined to make statements or pursue any charges, and LPD said on-duty supervisors documented the incident.
Lt. Tim Thompson, the on-duty supervisor when the incident occurred, continued looking for statements and evidence, finding surveillance footage the next morning from a nearby business capturing the assault.
The footage showed Sgt. Zapolski running up behind Officer Perkins and Lt. Angelo, and punching Officer Perkins, LPD said.
Officer Perkins fell to the ground, police said, and Sgt. Zapolski kicked and stomped him, shoving Lt. Angello as well.
The morning of Sept. 23, Lt. Thompson presented this new evidence to Chief McCann, briefing him on the incident, leading to Chief McCann ordering a warrant for Sgt. Zapolski’s arrest.
He also called for an internal administrative investigation by the Department’s Office of Professional Standards (OPS).
A release from the department noted that Lt. Angello and Sgt. Zapolski have been involved in a romantic relationship for a number of years, and lived together at the time of the investigation.
Both were placed on administrative leave during the investigation, and ordered to turn in their departmental cell phones.
Prior to turning over her phone, Lt. Angello was seen multiple times on body-camera footage manipulating her phone, with the investigation later finding that she had deleted or otherwise tampered with data after she had been ordered to turn it over.
During the investigation, LPD said a download of Lt. Angello’s phone showed evidence of inappropriate acts between her and at least two of her subordinates, neither of which were Officer Perkins.
OPS said they became suspicious of possible criminal violations aside from the administrative policy violations, temporarily ceasing the internal investigation and prompting Chief McCann to pass the investigation over to the Lorain County Prosecutor’s Office.
The administrative investigation revealed Lt. Angello, while on-duty, had engaged in sexual acts at least three times with one of her subordinates, Officer Carlos Trujillo, as well as other off-duty incidents.
It was further found that Lt. Angello was also romantically involved with a convicted drug trafficker, and engaged in sexual conduct with the felon several times while on-duty.
She was found guilty of multiple administrative violations, including nine counts of gross misconduct.
Her resignation was accepted on Nov. 10, and she was criminally indicted on Nov. 16 on charges of:
- Two counts of tampering with evidence
- Two counts of tampering with records
- Obstructing official business
- Three counts of unauthorized use of the law enforcement automated database system
Sgt. Zapolski was found guilty of multiple administrative violations, the release stated, including one count of gross misconduct.
He retired from the department on Nov. 3, and his case is ongoing in Lorain Municipal Court.
Officer Trujillo was found guilty of multiple administrative violations as well, including three counts of gross misconduct, the department said.
His employment with LPD was terminated on Nov. 14.
They stated that these recommendations of termination was not made lightly, even though two of the officers chose to resign in disgrace in lieu of termination.
“I have taken proactive measures to rid the agency of any disgraceful conduct committed by my officers,” said Chief McCann. “My officers are here to serve the public with honor and respect, and I will continue to mandate the high standards that I expect from them.”
He said LPD will continue to take a zero-tolerance approach for violations stemming from a “lack of integrity”.
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