A Durham officer charged with a sexual offense and other crimes this month was fired from the city’s police department for conduct unbecoming, according to his termination notice.
Joseph A. Daniels, 35, was arrested on July 8 and charged with first-degree kidnapping, second-degree sexual offense and sexual battery, The News & Observer previously reported.
The charges came after an investigation by the Apex Police Department into a June 4 incident.
Daniels was initially placed on administrative duty with pay, before later being put on leave without pay.
He was terminated July 19, according to the notice., which The N&O obtained through a public record request.
Impaired on night of incident
Daniels, a former officer in the Organized Crime Division, is accused of sexually assaulting a person at his home, it stated.
But Daniels was “so impaired” on the night of the alleged incident that he could not remember the events of it the day after. That, coupled with media coverage of the charges, are named as sufficient grounds to fire him.
“While the criminal case has not been adjudicated, the fact that you would become so impaired, even while off duty at your residence, that you are unable to recall the events of the previous night raises serious questions about your conduct and judgment,” the notice stated.
Conduct unbecoming Durham police personnel “shall include, but is not limited to, that which brings discredit upon the operation or efficiency of the department or member,” according to the department’s General Orders.
‘A political decision,’ says attorney
But Daniel Meier, an attorney representing Daniels, argued the city is “firing him over the allegation, they just don’t want to say it.”
“They’re saying, ‘Oh, you got so drunk, we’re firing you.’ I mean, then any number of people can be fired at any given time,” Meier said. “He was on his own time. He was at home. We may or may not think it’s a good idea to drink, but that’s not a fireable offense.”
He added he believes the department should have kept Daniels on leave until the case developed further.
“They’re worried about the media coverage and the media reaction,” he said. “And they’re making a political decision.”
Meier said they are denying the allegations against Daniels.
Daniels joined the Durham Police Department in 2011, The N&O previously reported. Before being put on leave, Daniels had an annual salary of $59,703, raised from an initial salary of $33,000 when he was hired.
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