Toledo Police Officer resigns while City and third-party disagree on excessive force investigation

Published: Apr. 25, 2023 at 6:44 PM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - The city of Toledo said a police officer under investigation for his “use of force” at a traffic stop resigned on Monday.

Officer Kyle Howe was placed on administrative leave after our KCRG-TV9 i9 Investigative Team published a video of an arrest during a traffic stop in March. After reviewing additional videos, which our i9 Investigative Team requested through a public record request, the city said the officer’s behavior was abhorrent.

“...the City has reviewed the videos from the perspective of the public trust and is shocked and dismayed by Mr. Howe’s abhorrent behavior in what we believe to be several instances of unnecessary force,” said City Attorney Michael Marquess. “His actions and language in these instances do not reflect the values and integrity of the rest of the Toledo Police Department. The City condemns Mr. Howe’s behavior in the strongest possible way and has severed all ties with him.”

However, the third party hired to investigate Kyle Howe cleared of him any wrongdoing in six different calls for service including responses condemned by the city of Toledo.

Jon Thomas, who is the principal of Workforce Solutions, said Howe engaged in legitimate and lawful conduct relating to his duties and made truthful statements. He also said the bodyworn and patrol car cameras used by the Toledo Police Department are unreliable and not able to record police activities in their preliminary report.

“In many of these incidents, the in-car camera system was not operational and the body cameras currently in use by the Toledo Police Department are easily knocked off and do not capture all aspects of the event,” Thomas said.

Questions about third-parties investigation being independent

According to previous TV9 reporting, the city of Toledo paid “several thousands” of taxpayer dollars for Workforce Solutions to investigate Kyle Howe. Jon Thomas, who is the principal of Workforce Solutions, is also the chief of police for a different police department in the same county and is a former police union official.

John Pelissero, who is a senior scholar at the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University, said the connections create various optics problems for an independent investigation.

“It affects the trust that the public has whether an impartial and fair inquiry into an arrest of a citizen is being conducted and that the results won’t be questioned,” he said.

Terry Cooper, who studies ethics in government at the University of Southern California said the investigation is not an independent investigation in an email. He said Thomas likely has a bias to protect police offers based on his experience.

Officer Howe resigned before the preliminary investigation report was published, which means he gets to keep his licenses and benefits. He is also eligible to work for another law enforcement agency and the city is not required to alert anyone who wants to hire him to his behavior.

Amber Navarro, who lives in Tama County, said Officer Howe threw her to the ground while responding to a domestic call in February 2023. She said she didn’t touch the officer, but was charged with assaulting Officer Howe.

Navarro said the most frustrating part was her daughter was screaming.