NEW BOSTON — More than six months after an incident involving a former Village of New Boston Councilmember, questions remain unanswered concerning an internal departmental investigation.
According to a release from the New Boston Police Department Jan. 19, 2021, involving former Village of New Boston Councilmember Vonald Patrick and an OVI crash, NBPD Chief Steve Goins announced an internal departmental investigation. The investigation was launched to see why NBPD officers did not report to the hospital afterward to place Patrick under arrest for an OVI or why proper procedure was not followed.
On Jan. 26, the Village of New Boston released a statement on social media stating a special meeting was held Jan. 25, and the council had decided to employ outside counsel on two separate matters, one of which was to determine if proper procedure was followed during the OVI crash with former Councilmember Patrick and another to investigate complaints filed against the Chief of Police.
The Portsmouth Daily Times has obtained a copy of an incident report from the Scioto County Sheriff’s Office, which investigated if proper procedure was followed by NBPD Capt. Robert Deerfield and Lt. Larry Anderson.
Following the investigation by the sheriff’s department, the report states that both Anderson and Deerfield could be charged with Dereliction of Duty, Obstructing Official Business, Intimidation-Victim Witness by Force or Threat and Tampering with Evidence.
According to the report, on the night of the incident, Patrick was uncooperative with police and refused to go to the hospital. Deerfield, who claimed he was off duty in a written statement, said Anderson called him several times, informing him of the situation and expressing concern for Patrick’s health and the possibility of an alcohol odor.
Deerfield stated he spoke with the mayor and advised Anderson to have the mayor speak to Patrick to convince him to go to the hospital. Patrick eventually agreed to go to the hospital and was taken by ambulance to SOMC. According to the report, neither Deerfield nor Anderson followed up at the hospital to request a blood sample or to arrest Patrick.
In a recorded conversation between the Village of New Boston Solicitor Justin Blume and Scioto County Sheriff Deputy Ron Davis, obtained by the Portsmouth Daily Times, Blume said he called Deerfield to see what was going on.
“He played dumb trying to pretend like I was talking about the drama between him (Deerfield) and Goins, and I said Bob, you know exactly what the hell I’m talking about. What the f*** is going on?” Blume said on the recording.
Blume continued to recount his conversation from the evening, stating that Deerfield eventually came around to telling him what he knew about the incident and that Anderson was on the scene.
“I said, well you tell Anderson to make sure that if Vonald doesn’t give, you know, a sample, to get a f***ing warrant and get it. That’s a direct quote,” Blume said. “This would have been probably 15 minutes after the stop. My guess is that Bob (Deerfield) never relayed the message to Anderson.”
According to the incident report, neither Anderson nor Deerfield ever went to the hospital after Blume instructed them. In a second audio recording between Davis and Deerfield, obtained by the Daily Times, Deerfield states he was at home in an off-duty status and wasn’t on the clock being paid by the Village. Deerfield shared he had a direct order in writing from the chief of police dated Oct. 29 that no officers were supposed to call him after hours when he is at home for directions.
“When Larry Anderson called me, I gave him no directions or orders on how to conduct that investigation,” Deerfield said. “Nobody asked me how to charge Mr. Patrick. Nobody asked me how to investigate that crash. Nobody asked me nothing.”
Deerfield said on his way to work, Blume called him and asked him what was going on and he told Blume he did not know. Deerfield explained to investigators Blume told him not to play stupid and asked again what was going on, with Deerfield again claiming that he had no idea what was going on. Deerfield said Blume continued the conversation and told him to make sure to get a blood test.
“I said Justin, Larry’s there. Larry is conducting that crash. I said Mr. Blume, Patrick is going to go to the hospital, so I’m sure there will be a blood test taken. That’s exactly what I told the man,” Deerfield said.
Deerfield restated the order he had from the chief and explained again it was on Oct. 29 and claimed all his power of authority was taken from him due to retaliation.
“Here is the problem, you got some crooked a** council members there with no life, all right,” Deerfield said. “They’re upset because, you know, their person didn’t win sheriff, and they know I was a major supporter of the people in the sheriff’s office now. They know their da** criminal activity can’t be covered up no more. So, they are trying to eliminate people. I know what they are doing. So, that’s fine with me.”
Deerfield stated to investigators that he was not aware of any investigation until he heard it on the radio the following day and saw an article in the Daily Times about the internal investigation announced by Goins.
According to the Scioto County Sheriff’s report, Goins was not aware of the incident until another officer searched for a report and asked the chief the next day. Once Goins questioned Anderson about the incident and why procedure wasn’t followed, Anderson told the chief he got wrapped up in paperwork.
Goins was later placed on administrative paid leave after Equal Employment Opportunity Commission complaints were filed against him by three officers from the department. He has remained on leave ever since. Deerfield and Anderson were also placed on leave during the investigation.
According to the report, video footage from cameras within the NBPD contradicts Anderson’s statement that he was wrapped up in paperwork and stated he had plenty of time to go to the hospital. The report states both officers could be charged depending on the Village’s decision to do so.
“Both Anderson and Deerfield can be charged with Dereliction of Duty and Obstructing Official Business. Anderson being the officer doing the accident and arriving at the station at around 1850 hours and staying there until approximately 2015 hours. Most of the time sitting in their conference room with his hands together behind his head.
Deerfield, who was the officer coming on at 1900 hours, sits on station for a couple of hours even though he had been instructed by Prosecutor Bloom(Blume) how to proceed with the Vonald Patrick wreck. There was not another logged call for the officers until around 2130 hours, so they were not busy,” according to the report.
The report also states Patrick did not leave the hospital until around 7:50 p.m., which gave either of the two officers time to go to the hospital and read Patrick the 2255 and administer a test.
“Both purposely obstructed by refusing to go to the hospital and do what Prosecutor Bloom(Blume) had advised them to do. Also, veteran officers, one of which has 20 plus years as an OSP Officer, know what and how to conduct a OMVI arrest. Mr. Anderson made reference to he could smell the alcohol on Patrick.”
The report states that Deerfield, who had made references to himself as the highest-ranking member of the department since Goins was put on leave, told Anderson he was putting him on administrative leave in the presence of investigators and advised Anderson to stay quiet.
“Knowing an investigation was ongoing and knowing that either of them could be witnesses against each, he (Deerfield) went on to use his authority over Lt. Anderson to tell him to button his lip and say nothing,” according to the report.
The report states Deerfield tampered with evidence by turning his body camera on and off during the investigation when investigators were at the department Jan. 28 to serve subpoenas for the investigation. It is against their own policy to tum the camera off while an incident is still going on.
“After receiving the bodycam footage from Deerfield’s camera from Jan. 28, 2021, and reviewing it, Cpt. Deerfield turns the camera on and off several times during the investigation at their PD. Once he put the camera on when he arrived and turned it on to record, it became evidence and in turning it on and off several times while the incident was going on, he tampered with evidence,” the report states. “The recorder is not his personal recorder and belonged to the NBPD and once it was on, it should have stayed on but was quite clearly turned on and off to conceal some audio.”
During a Village of New Boston Council Meeting June 15, the Daily Times asked for an update on the two officers and was told both officers were back at work. At a recent council meeting July 20, 2021, Anderson was lifted off his starting year probation period by the council and named a permanent Lieutenant.
When the Daily Times filed a request for the incident report from the Scioto County Sheriff’s office, a redacted version of the report was sent, stating the suspects were not charged. The Daily Times also requested a report conducted by hired counsel Jason Kester, who investigated the incident for the Village of New Boston, the Daily Times was denied the report by Blume, who stated the Kester report was protected by attorney-client and work-product privileges and would not be produced.
Reach Adam Black at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1927, or by email at [email protected]
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