Combat Marine, former police officer once recognized for heroism takes own life in police station

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Euclid, Ohio – A former police officer with a troubled past was reported as having committed suicide on March 23rd inside the very station that he was terminated from in 2018.

Reports indicate that the former officer didn’t attempt to take anyone’s life but his own.

The incident happened at approximately 3:00 a.m. that Monday morning inside the Euclid Police Department. Former Officer Todd Gauntner had entered the EPD’s lobby and took his own life, according to a release from the department.

While there’s been no details revealed as to what exactly compelled Gauntner to take his life, he did suffer from a checkered past with the law while being a law enforcement officer.

His series of poor decision eventually led to his termination from the EPD in 2018.

After having served two tours in Afghanistan with the Marines, Gauntner had eventually found himself in the employ of the EPD. It was around June of 2014 that his troubles began to start.

The former officer’s personnel file noted that in 2014, he was pulled over for going 90 mph in a 30 mph zone by a Wickliffe police officer.

According to the incident report filed, Gauntner was twice the legal limit when a breathalyzer was administered. This resulted in a 15 day suspension from the force.

In December of 2015, Gauntner found himself under extreme scrutiny again for drunkenly firing his gun into Lake Erie and toward Euclid park. This resulted in yet another 15-day suspension, but the police chief had recommended that he be terminated after that incident.

For a few years, then-Officer Gauntner managed to steer clear of trouble.

In fact, in January of 2018, he was recognized by the EPD for heroism after saving a man who was shot 16 times when EMS refused to pick the victim up due to jurisdictional politics.

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Then, in August of 2018 after a night of drinking, Gauntner would get involved in an altercation that would cost him his job alongside jail time and probation.

Police received a frantic call from a bartender on August 24th, 2018, where she stated: “He has a gun, it’s loaded. He held it to somebody’s head. It’s loaded, he says he’s going to kill everybody”

That person who was holding the gun was Gauntner.

The then-officer was sitting across the bar and made a series of crude remarks to two men sitting across from him. Those two men, also happened to be Hell’s Angels.

Gauntner’s personnel file stated the following about the incident:
“[Gauntner] initiated the incident with two men who were alleged members of the Hell’s Angels organization by making disparaging comments to them.”

When the two men approached Gauntner, he pulled out a gun and started pointing it at several individuals around him.

At some point, despite Gauntner having produced the weapon, the Hell’s Angels began throwing several punches at Gauntner.

Aside from some bruising on Gauntner, no one was shot or seriously harmed during the incident, but this was the final straw with the department.

The EPD terminated him in September of 2018. Just two months later, Gauntner had plead guilty to charges associated with brandishing the weapon inside of the bar.

In January of 2019, Willoughby Municipal Court Judge Marisa Cornachio said the following during his sentencing: “You’re held to a higher standard, and that’s the way it is.”

The barroom clash landed Gauntner five days in jail and one year of probation. Spiros Gonakis, who was Gauntner’s attorney during the proceedings believed that his conduct was tied directly to PTSD:

“I have no doubt your honor, I’m not a doctor, I’m not a psyciatrist, but that this PTSD played into this event in August.”

Considering that Gauntner spent 4 years in the Marines and several years policing, it’s not a far-fetched concept to note that he likely did suffer from PTSD.

It’s unfortunate that a man that was full of potential, and clearly had demonstrated heroism on events, was also dealing with the ramifications of poor choices.

Perhaps it was this series of events over the past few years that led to him taking his own life, or maybe there was more to his troubles than the obvious.

Whatever the case, he was still an officer.

Still someone’s son.

Still someone who answered the call to serve country and community.

The suicide of Gauntner also marks a near-nine-year anniversary since Officer Kevin Blakeley died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound inside the very same police department.

Our hearts go out to those who knew and loved Todd Gauntner. Hopefully he’s now at peace.

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