Patrolman absent from city hearing

WARREN – A city patrolman accused of ethics violations and professional misconduct did not appear at a predisciplinary hearing that was scheduled for Tuesday.

Reuben Shaw, who has been on paid leave since July, was to meet with Warren police Chief Eric Merkel to answer to several internal charges being levied against the veteran patrolman.

It was not clear why Shaw did not appear for the hearing. He could not be reached for comment.

City officials said Merkel can now move forward with taking disciplinary action against Shaw, which could result in the patrolman’s immediate termination, if the chief chooses.

Merkel, who also was not available for comment, is expected to make a decision within the next several days, city sources said.

Shaw, who is accused of illegally having a vehicle towed from private property on June 30, 2013, and towed to a garage he controls, has also been the subject of a probe by the state Bureau of Criminal Investigation. The criminal investigation was handed over to the Trumbull County Prosecutor’s Office last month and is still pending.

Merkel informed Shaw in a letter dated April 18 that he was expected to appear for a predisciplinary hearing last week. The meeting was moved to Tuesday afternoon.

In the letter released on Monday, Merkel advised Shaw of the violations that resulted from an internal investigation. Merkel wrote that the purpose of the hearing is to give Shaw the opportunity to explain his alleged misconduct.

The chief charges that Shaw did not follow proper procedure when he removed a 1969 Chevrolet Nova from a locked garage at a residential property at 2320 Kenwood Drive. Merkel wrote, “This removal was done without the authorization of the titled owner of the vehicle, and was done without permission or request of the property owner.”

Merkel also states that the internal investigation demonstrates that Shaw used his position as a Warren police officer to have May’s Towing transport the vehicle to a garage Shaw “controlled, as opposed to having the vehicle towed to an impound lot.”

Merkel charges that “these and other actions demonstrate engagement in private activities while on duty and while being paid as a city of Warren police officer.”

Merkel informed Shaw by letter in July that he was being put on paid leave pending ”any criminal and / or administrative investigations regarding the towing of a motor vehicle from private property.”

Merkel said he asked for BCI’s assistance because he was concerned the incident was a ”potentially criminal matter.”