NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) - Norfolk's police chief is taking more heat on his handling of a recruit's death, first from a councilman who has lost confidence and now from members of his own command staff.
Multiple sources tell WAVY.com there was a very heated meeting Friday in which members of the command staff confronted Chief Bruce Marquis about how he blamed them for his lack of knowledge on all the details of recruit John Kohn's death this past December. Those sources said some members of his staff basically accused the chief of lying and told him that they did in fact provide him a full review.
At a news conference last week Chief Marquis, a full month after Kohn's death, claimed ignorance on several aspects of the department's investigation. "I was unaware of some things Lt. Baron brought up here," the chief said. Soon after Kohn's death, the chief released a public statement blaming the death on an accidental doorway collision between Kohn and another recruit at the training academy. He never mentioned the head blows Kohn received 11 minutes later during ground fighting training.
During last week's news conference the chief said, "I was not aware of that information by staff. I think someone or someones in my staff should have advised me more thoroughly than I was."
Sources tell WAVY.com that members of the chief's command staff confronted him saying the chief was not telling the truth.
Councilman Tommy Smigiel said Monday he has lost confidence in Marquis. "I just didn't feel like the police chief was taking accountability for anything that happened," he said. "And then to say somebody underneath of you didn't handle it right, you have to take ownership as a leader."
"There is a vote of no confidence right now with the public," said Smigiel. "From reading the comments on line, from emails, phone calls, police officers, retired police officers I've talked to. People are upset and people want to see that accountability," said Smigiel.
Retired police lieutenant Chuck Brewer said he is taking his call for the chief's firing straight to city council. "He should be relieved of duty," said Brewer. "I worked mainly in patrol for most of my career. The last nine years I was a sector lieutenant in charge of East Ocean View. The arrogance, anger, indignation and condescending attitude the public saw him demonstrate on television last week I experienced firsthand from him."
Brewer said that news conference last week was the last straw for him. "The chief needs to go," he said.
Chief Marquis is going before city council Tuesday afternoon to answer questions about his handling of the recruit's death and how it has become a public relations nightmare for the city. A department spokesman said the chief would not comment before he meets with council.
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