LORAIN, Ohio – An Ohio police officer was fired after an internal investigation discovered he had abused his power after pulling over and detaining his daughter and her boyfriend without cause.
John Kovach Jr., a 26-year veteran, was fired after the Lorain Police Department found the traffic stop was an “abuse of power.”
Safety-Service Director Dan Given, Police Chief Cel Rivera and other command officers noted Kovach, a patrol officer who joined the force in 1992, violated various sections of the department’s standards of conduct and policy and procedures during the April 16 incident.
He was fired May 11 and Given said the incident has been referred to County Prosecutor Dennis Will for review.
“These actions are not acceptable for members of our police department and we felt it warranted immediate dismissal,” Given said. The police union is appealing the decision.
Dashcam footage from the patrol officer’s unit showed him pulling over a silver car on April 16, The Chronicle-Telegram reported.
The car contained three passengers: Katlyn Kovach, 18, his daughter; Makai Coleman, 18, her boyfriend and a friend. Moreover, the footage showed that Kovach did not tell dispatch that he pulled over a car.
Kovach told Coleman to step out of the vehicle because, “You’re going to jail.” When Coleman asked why the officer said, “Have a seat in my car. We’ll make [expletive] up as we go.” The teenager proceeds to sit in the back of the cruiser.
The patrol officer was able to locate Coleman’s car after tracing his daughter’s computer to a friend’s home, FOX 8 reported.
Kovach threatened to give the friend, who was in the car, a ticket for failing to wear her seatbelt.
Apparently, the girl’s mother saw the incident when she ran out of the home and said she was calling the police. At the time, dispatchers were trying to contact Kovach about a road rage incident but he did not respond, according to the report.
Kovach did not realize his daughter was also in the car at the time of the traffic stop, investigators said. Once he saw she was there, he also demanded her to step out of the vehicle.
Once she exits the vehicle, the teenager was seen yelling at her father for “using his badge and uniform to intimidate her and her boyfriend,” FOX 8 reported.
In an off-camera exchange between Kovach and his daughter, she is heard saying he couldn’t take her because she was 18.
“You have to give me a reason, by law. Daddy, why are pushing me? Why are you [expletive] pushing me? Why are you doing this?” she is heard saying.
According to The Chronicle, the investigation discovered that Kovach lied to his supervisors about the traffic stop. He told investigators he did not approve of his daughter’s relationship with Coleman, but didn’t give a reason.
Nevertheless, the same Chronicle report said Kovach told his fellow officers his ex-wife had called to alert him to a post that Coleman had made on Facebook, saying he was going to “put (Katlyn) out” as a prostitute to make money for the two of them, according to the paperwork.
Kovach said he was looking for his daughter because when he spoke with her the week before, he believed she was suicidal and wanted to take her to the hospital.
FOP President Kyle Gelenius said Kovach is contesting his firing through the grievance process, which has reached the arbitration stage.
“Because the collective bargaining agreement stipulates that disciplinary procedures are private, I will reserve my comments until after the case has been decided,” Gelenius said. “Nonetheless, Officer Kovach is looking forward to presenting his side of the story to a neutral arbitrator this coming September, when the arbitration is scheduled.”
According to the grievance, Kovach did not display gross misconduct and the city violated his contractual rights by firing him.