A decision to fire a Neptune police officer who testified in a lawsuit over sexual harassment of two female officers was tabled indefinitely by the governing body July 25.
The Neptune Township Committee tabled the resolution that would have fired Officer Kyheem Davis, with his supporters saying at the meeting he was being fired in retaliation for “being a whistle-blower” in the sexual harassment case.
In 2012, police officers Elena Gonzalez and Christine Savage filed charges that they were subjected to sexual harassment in the department and an investigation was launched in 2013. The township eventually reached a $330,000 settlement in 2014 over the lawsuit and both officers were given promotions after their case was settled.
Davis, who is a past president of the local Police Benevolent Association, gave a deposition in the law suit.
The female officers, who attended this week’s committee meeting along with other Davis supporters, said that the proposed termination of Davis, a 16-year police veteran, is nothing more than retaliation for his testifying on their behalf during the internal investigation.
“Office Davis stood up for Sgt. Gonzalez and myself in a lawsuit for sexual harassment and this is retaliation and now he is being punished for it,” Savage said.
Some of the reasons cited for terminating Davis was that he has a high number of accidents involving his police car and that he traveled at excessive speeds, up to 130 miles per hour, to get to an accident scene.
Gonzalez said that many officers are in accidents and that Davis had mostly minor accidents and not many more than other officers on the force.
“Officers drive five days a week and they get in car accidents,” she said.
She also pointed out that any police officer will drive exceeding fast to get to a life-or-death emergency situation.
Davis’s hearing would have normally been closed to the public but Davis and his attorney requested in be held in public.
Davis, who also spoke in his own defense, was critical of the Neptune police department.
“There have been more police officers leaving the department in the past two years than in the 14 years I was there prior to that,” he said.
His supporters said terminating Davis is an injustice and will affect his family and livelihood.
“I just think he presented his own best defense,” resident Michael D. Fornino said.