An ex-Dayton police sergeant is suing the city and police department over allegedly being placed on a “Brady List” containing the names of officers who have been disciplined or in trouble for dishonesty.
Former police Sgt. Tonina Lamanna was placed on the list with no notification or opportunity to contest the designation, which violates her right to due process and has prevented her from obtaining employment in her field, according to a complaint filed this week in Montgomery County Common Pleas Court.
Lamanna was fired in 2017 after she allegedly lied about accessing information in the police department’s records system after Chief Richard Biehl’s service weapon was stolen.
Lamanna, the first ever female in the patrol operations division of the K-9 unit, claims she was really fired in retaliation for filing sex-discrimination complaints and a federal lawsuit, which she lost in court.
Lamanna’s new civil complaint says the city has not produced records showing the police department’s Brady List policies and criteria and why she was added to the list.
“I am disappointed that the department has engaged in an arbitrary practice of placing officers on a hit list,” said her counsel, V. Ellen Graham Day.
Brady Lists are named after the U.S. Supreme Court case Brady vs. Maryland that requires prosecutors to turn over evidence that might help the defense at trial.
Information that may undermine a witnesses’ credibility must be turned over to the defense, including information about police officers who have been found to be untruthful by filing false reports or making false statements.
In certain circumstances, officers’ prior conduct is relevant in criminal trials because it reflects on their credibility, according to the information shared by the International Association of Chiefs of Police.
Some cities and prosecutors’ offices across the nation have Brady Lists that are meant to track dishonest or untrustworthy officers.
“The lists are not designed to track people who should not be officers,” USA Today reported. “Rather they are a tool prosecutors use to identify those whose past conduct might raise questions about their fairness or truthfulness as a witness in a trial ― and require disclosure to defendants.”
The Dayton Daily News has requested records from the city of Dayton about its alleged Brady List.
Lamanna graduated from the police academy in 2001 and later joined the K-9 unit.
But she claimed she was asked sexist questions during an interview for the K-9 officer position in 2010. She filed a gender discrimination complaint.
She later filed a complaint and lawsuit claiming she faced discrimination when she was not promoted after taking a sergeant civil service exam in 2015.
The city contended she did not qualify for a promotion because she had to finish a five-year work commitment first. Lamanna was promoted to sergeant in 2016. She eventually lost her discrimination lawsuit against the city.
Lamanna was fired after she was found guilty of violating city policy.
Lamanna lied about accessing personnel information about police Chief Biehl in the police records system after his firearm was stolen from his vehicle, according to disciplinary and city records.
Police said she falsified a report and was untruthful during interviews when police were investigating whether someone leaked information about the missing firearm to the media. The city said discharge was the appropriate punishment for falsification.
Lamanna has claimed that her firing was payback for filing discrimination complaints.
Graham Day claims her client was fired because she had a faulty memory about accessing a database.
The complaint alleges that Biehl was dishonest about the circumstances surrounding the theft of his firearm and yet he wasn’t discharged. Biehl was reprimanded after the theft.
Lamanna claims she has been put on the police department’s Brady List, which has stopped her from getting other jobs she is qualified for, the complaint states.
The complaint alleges she was placed on the list without notification and without being given an opportunity to challenge it, depriving her of the constitutional right to due process.
She is seeking damages in excess of $75,000. The suit names the city, police department, City Manager Shelley Dickstein and Chief Biehl.
A 2018 Dayton Daily News investigation found that at least eight other Dayton police officers in the previous decade and a half had lost their jobs after being accused of providing false information.
But two officers were reinstated.
The city and police department did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The city traditionally says it does not comment on pending litigation.