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Police officer cleared

May 21, 1999|By BRENDAN KIRBY

A Hagerstown police officer who was accused last month of improperly drawing his gun has been cleared of wrongdoing by an internal investigation.

The investigation determined that Officer Casey Yonkers acted appropriately when he pointed his gun at a driver during a traffic stop, said Lt. Robert Frick, who commands the Hagerstown Police Department's Professional Standards Division.

Yonkers acted reasonably in response to what he perceived as a threat to his safety, Frick said.

"He took actions that he's been trained to take," Frick said.

Chief Dale J. Jones reviewed the report and accepted its conclusions last week, Frick said. He said he informed Ray Foltz Sr., who filed the complaint, of the decision on Tuesday.

Yonkers could not be reached for comment on Friday.

Foltz said he was disappointed by the outcome, but not surprised.

"The way I was interrogated when they went over my written complaint with me, I believe they were looking for reasons to exonerate the man," he said.

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Foltz, the city's assistant finance director, filed a complaint last month alleging that Yonkers pulled out his gun and pointed it at him during a traffic stop on March 25.

Yonkers turned on his emergency lights and signaled for Foltz to pull over to the side of the road.

Foltz said he did not immediately stop because Burhans Boulevard has no shoulder and he did not want to create a traffic hazard. Instead, he said he pointed to the bottom of the hill, indicating he was heading for the entrance of the Lowe's Distribution Center.

Foltz said Friday that the department informed him that Yonkers was justified in drawing his weapon because Foltz was speeding, he did not immediately pull over and he led the officer off of the road.

But Foltz said the potential for harm rises dramatically when an officer takes out a gun. He said he is epileptic and feels lucky he did not have a seizure.

Foltz called for the creation of a civilian review board that would provide an independent examination of officer misconduct.

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