Appeals court: Former Ottumwa police sergeant firing was justified

An Iowa Court of Appeals ruling on Wednesday, Nov. 6, 2019, said that the Ottumwa police chief's decision to fire a sergeant was justified (Badge image: Courtesy Ottumwa Police Department, Background Image: MGN)
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DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - The Iowa Court of Appeals says an Ottumwa police chief and the local civil service commission were right to fire a police sergeant for failure to be truthful during an internal investigation into a January 2017 arrest.

Former Ottumwa police Sgt. Mark Milligan was disciplined for remaining in his car during a stop involving a possible stolen car.

Milligan, the supervising officer at the scene, didn't intervene when another officer argued with a juvenile female and arrested her on a charge that was later dropped.

Milligan claims it was cold and he didn't want to get out of the car.

After an internal investigation, Police Chief Tom McAndrew concluded Milligan lied about his interactions during the incident and fired Milligan. The civil service commission upheld the decision.

A district court judge in August 2018 found his dismissal harsh and arbitrary and reinstated Milligan with back pay.

The appeals court judges disagreed Wednesday, saying Milligan's termination was appropriate discipline for dishonesty and is in the public interest.

Milligan's attorney says he plans to appeal to the Iowa Supreme Court.