April 20, 2014

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Chief: Doctor must OK officer’s return

LORAIN — A Lorain police officer who allegedly threatened to kill himself in front of his estranged wife will not be allowed back on the force without a doctor’s approval.

Police Chief Cel Rivera said he will require a doctor’s letter before he allows 17-year veteran Officer Corey Earl to work as a police officer again. Earl was placed on paid administrative leave for medical issues Aug. 20, which is the same day he allegedly entered his wife’s Amherst home and said he wanted to die.

“We have to ensure that he is fit for the job,” Rivera said. “My biggest concern is that he gets the help he needs so that he can be OK and be a part of this police department.”

However, Earl might need more than a doctor’s note to work.

The day following the incident, his wife obtained a civil protection order that temporarily prevents Earl from coming within 500 feet of her and bans him from carrying a deadly weapon. A county Common Pleas Court judge will decide how long that protection order should last, which could be up to one year.

Rivera said there could be some leeway with the weapon provision since Earl depends on carrying a gun for his job, so he doesn’t want to decide Earl’s fate with the department until the judge’s ruling comes down.

“That’s a serious issue and one that we’ll have to sit down with our law director and administrators to decide,” Rivera said. “We do have some light duty work, but we’ve never given it out for a situation like this.”

Rivera said Earl is a great officer who has done a lot for the department. He has represented Lorain police as a member of the U.S. Marshals and served on the city’s SWAT team and the Lorain County Strike Team.

His personnel file contains dozens of commendations — a bundle that is several inches thick — as well as high rankings in each of his annual reviews.

There were two incidents of discipline lodged against him, according to his personnel file. In the most recent, he received a written reprimand this year for working security at a private party where the host, Scotty Campana, was cited for illegally setting off fireworks.

The second one, which also resulted in a written reprimand, was from 2002 in which he was accused of threatening to fight a superior officer over an argument they were having regarding scheduling.

A report prepared by the Amherst police from the night of the alleged suicide threat reveals that Earl entered the Amherst home that he once shared with his wife about 2 a.m. Aug. 20. Earl and his wife filed for divorce in March following 24 years of marriage, and he has been living in Lorain during that time, records show.

The report said Earl walked into the master bedroom and turned on the light, waking his wife up, but turned it off again when he saw his son asleep in their bed.

The couple walked into a nearby bathroom, where Earl told her he was going to kill himself in front of her “because he couldn’t take it anymore” and then lifted up his shirt to reveal a handgun in his waistband, the report stated.

They walked downstairs and talked for about 30 minutes before his wife was able to calm him down and take the gun away, according to the report.

Earl left shortly thereafter and his wife called Rivera, who sent officers to find Earl and make sure he was not a danger, the report stated. Earl was taken to another officer’s home to sleep, Rivera said.

Earl’s wife contacted the Amherst Police Department later in the day to explain what happened, telling them she did not want to call police earlier because she was afraid to get Earl in trouble with his job.

According to Amherst police records, officers had been called out to the home at least twice before for disputes between the couple.

On July 6, when the couple was trying to reconcile, they got into an argument where Earl threw a picture frame, and his wife alleged he threatened physical harm against her, according to a police report.

Earl denied the claim, and his two children, who were home at the time, said they didn’t hear any threats.

On Aug. 13, his wife called police saying Earl was repeatedly text messaging her cell phone, telling her he had stolen several undergarments from her dresser. None of the messages was threatening, according to a police report, and Earl denied stealing the undergarments.

There were no charged filed in connection with either incident.

Contact Adam Wright at 653-6257 or awright@chroniclet.com.