December 21, 2014

Elyria
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Grafton police officer demoted after drunken incident

GRAFTON — A village police officer has been demoted from lieutenant to patrolman in the wake of a drunken argument with his girlfriend on New Year’s Day.

Officer Phil Stoker, a full-time officer with the city since 2000, became a lieutenant in 2012 around the time Mayor Megan Flanigan and Village Council fired then-Police Chief Lonnie Carroll for reasons that have never been explained.

But in a Jan. 28 letter to Stoker, Flanigan wrote that he was being demoted and given a three-day suspension based on the recommendation of Police Chief Dan Clark. Stoker also was ordered to undergo a “fitness to serve evaluation” with Lorain County Alcohol and Drug Abuse Services.

The incident that led to Stoker’s demotion began about 12:30 a.m. Jan. 1 when Officer Dan Janik spotted a woman, later identified as Bobbie Hiser, walking near Cleveland and Main streets. The woman, Janik wrote, was being followed by a man, whom he later identified as Stoker.

Janik wrote that Stoker told him not to worry about the situation and he left.

“I figure Phil would take care of the situation,” Janik wrote, although he also notified another officer working that night about what was going on.

But when Janik circled around the block, he saw that Hiser was still walking and he called her over to the car. Stoker then drove up in his car and again told Janik that he would take care of the situation, the report said.

Around that time, Officer Jeff Brown — who wrote he was concerned that Hiser was walking on a main road in the middle of a snowstorm — arrived at the scene. Brown wrote that he saw Stoker’s car pull into a nearby apartment complex.

Brown wrote that Hiser smelled strongly of alcohol and was swaying back and forth while talking. He asked her to get into his patrol car and then asked her what was going on.

Hiser told Brown that she and Stoker had argued at the Wrong Side of the Tracks bar, and she had left and he began following her.

A bartender wrote in a witness statement that the argument started when Hiser came out of the bathroom and “witnessed another woman in Phil’s lap. Bobbie (officer’s girlfriend) slapped Phil + started yelling at him. I told Bobbie we don’t fight in here + she got mad + left. A few minutes later Phil left.”

As Brown was talking to Hiser, he wrote that he saw Stoker get out of his car and begin unsteadily walking toward the patrol car. When Stoker arrived, Brown wrote, he smelled of alcohol.

Brown wrote that he told Stoker to go to his apartment, but Stoker argued about doing so.

Brown wrote that he eventually saw Stoker return to his apartment complex, get out of his car and begin walking toward the cruiser. Brown got out of his vehicle and met Stoker halfway across the parking lot.

He wrote that Stoker “immediately began to get loud,” demanding that Hiser be released because she was being held “against her will.” Brown wrote that he told Stoker he wasn’t holding Hiser, but was waiting for a call (from her daughter) so she would have a place to spend the night.

“Phil became loud again and threatened me that I needed to address him as Lieutenant and attempted to get me to back down and release her from my car,” Brown wrote.

Brown wrote that after further protest, Stoker finally left. Brown wrote that he then called Clark, who agreed that Hiser shouldn’t go back to Stoker’s apartment that night.

Brown’s report also noted that there had been roughly three previous incidents involving Stoker and Hiser that had resulted in police involvement.

“Each time both parties are fighting and appear to be intoxicated,” Brown wrote.

There was no record of any criminal charges against Stoker in Elyria Municipal Court, which handles cases in Grafton.

Calls to Grafton Law Director Tom Smith and an attorney who represented Stoker weren’t returned Friday.

Contact Brad Dicken at 329-7147 or bdicken@chroniclet.com.