APD Officer, Fired for Misconduct, Back on Force

Apr 18, 2013

A just-filed lawsuit against the city of Atlanta raises a question: How many times can a police officer break the rules, but remain on the force?

Too many, claims Clemmin Davis in a case filed Tuesday in Fulton Superior Court. 

According to the lawsuit, Davis claims the City of Atlanta should have fired at least one of the accused officers long before that officer allegedly abused him during a 2011 traffic stop.  

APD Chief George Turner, seen here at a recent press conference talking about allegations of excessive force, fired Off. Nicholas Dimauro in 2011.
Credit Jim Burress / WABE News

Davis admits he ran from the police during the stop, but says it was out of fear, and that he never resisted arrest.

A by-stander videotaped the incident, which shows an officer yelling obscenities while repeatedly kicking a man.

The lawsuit claims Davis sustained serious injuries, including “cracked and lost teeth, lacerations to his face, bruising and abrasions all over his body, damage to his internal organs severe pain and significant mental trauma and anguish.”    

One officer allegedly involved, Brian Thomas, was fired before the Office of Professional Standards finished its investigation. 

OPS ultimately found the other two officers, Joshua Lowery and Nicholas Dimauro, used excessive force.  The investigation also found they failed to report the incident. 

So how many times should an officer be allowed to use excessive force, lie, or violate other work rules before being fired? 

One?  Two? 

In the case of Officer Dimauro, the answer is ten. 

Since 2005, that’s how many times OPS sustained complaints against Dimauro.  Five of those complaints APD eventually overruled.

A long list of abuse allegations

The lawsuit filed on behalf of Clemmin Davis paints a picture of a cop gone rogue, including: 

Jan. 2011

Dimauro was accused of dragging a woman by the hair and then, with another officer, beating the woman and smashing her head into a patrol car.  Four separate callers contacted the police department to report that they were witnessing Dimauro and another officer beating a woman who was in handcuffs.  APD failed to discipline Dimauro or the other officer.

Sept. 2010:  

Dimauro admitted to using a police baton to strike a man in the head, collarbone and back, as well as punching the man in the face with a closed fist after the man ran from him.  “He suffered a fractured right forearm, a collapsed lung, two fractured ribs, a broken tooth and lacerations to his face and the back of his head.  Defendant Dimauro stated he hurt his pinky finger and had to put ice on it for a while.  It was recommended that Dimauro be terminated, but the Chief overruled the recommendation and Dimauro was not disciplined at all for nearly killing the victim.”

Oct. 2006:

“Defendant Dimauro was accused of beating a man, twisting his hand and arm violently and repeatedly slamming his head into the ground for running from Dimauro for a traffic offense, after Dimauro initially pursued the victim because he was not wearing his seatbelt.  Dimauro failed to report the incident and failed to show up for court on the traffic charges.  An independent witness confirmed that Dimauro repeatedly punched the victim with a closed first.  Dimauro was given a computer voice stress analysis by internal affairs, and it was determined that Dimauro lied to investigators.  Finally, on April 16, 2007, the OPS commander signed the report and recommendation that Dimauro be disciplined for excessive and unauthorized use of force and maltreatment, failing to report the use of force, failing to show up for court and for lying to investigators; however, APD’s chief [then Richard Pennington] refused to discipline Dimauro at all for the vicious beating and gave him an oral admonishment for failing to file a proper report and failing to go to court.  He did not get so much as a written reprimand for committing what would otherwise be charged as aggravated assault by an ordinary citizen.”

Jan. 2006:

"Demauro was accused of grabbing and pulling at the driver of a car who was leaving after resolving a private dispute in a parking deck.  In response to allegations of excessive force, Dimauro alleged that the victim/driver struck Dimauro with his car, tried to drag him away and pinned him against the garage’s mechanical arm box.  The driver was charged with numerous serious crimes.  OPS investigators obtained and reviewed video of the incident and found that Dimauro was the aggressor and that the victim did not strike, drag or pin Dimauro with the vehicle.  Prosecutors dismissed all charges against the driver.  Dimauro received a written reprimand.

Aug. 2005:

Dimauro and others performed a stop on a vehicle they thought was stolen, but failed to confirm it was the right vehicle.  Officers “stopped an innocent citizen, at gunpoint, and forcefully removed him from the vehicle, after Dimauro used his baton to smash the driver’s window.  OPS sustained a claim of wrongful and excessive force and failure to follow proper policy regarding a felony traffic stop; however, APD’s administration (this time a deputy chief), in part based upon the City of Atlanta Law Department, overruled the findings and did not sustain the excessive force complaint against Dimauro, despite the evidence uncovered by APD’s own internal affairs unit.”

In all, Dimauro had 21 complaints in his record, including two from within the department, according to records from Davis's attorney. 

Fired officer asks for his job back

Chief George Turner, in firing Dimauro, said his termination was warranted because of Dimauro’s complete discipline history.

But on August 10th,  2012, Dimauro appealed the decision before the city’s Civil Service Board. 

One March 5th,  the board reversed Chief Turner’s decision, modifying the dismissal to a 30-day suspension with back pay.  

“Chief Turner admitted he made his decision without considering [Dimauro’s] overall performance, [or] his many awards from the department including Officer of the Year,” writes the three-member Civil Service Board panel.

Rachel Samuda, Dimauro’s police union attorney, agreed to speak to WABE about the case but did not answer her office phone at the agreed upon interview time.   

The attorney for Clemmin Davis, Mark Bullman, declined an interview request. 

The Atlanta Police Department did not respond to WABE’s request for comment.