Police officer fired after investigation

February 28, 1993|By JoAnna Daemmrich | JoAnna Daemmrich,Staff Writer

An Annapolis police officer who became entangled in a destructive love triangle has been fired for interfering with an investigation into allegations that she harassed her former boyfriend.

Annapolis Police Chief Harold Robbins dismissed Officer Lisa Whiting, a four-year veteran of the department, late last week.

Earlier this month, a police trial board found her guilty on four of 11 administrative charges stemming from a complaint that she harassed her former boyfriend and threatened his new girlfriend in the fall of 1991.

The three-member panel of police officers recommended that Officer Whiting, 30, be fired or suspended.

"I think the whole outcome of the case was a total travesty of justice," said her attorney, Joel L. Katz. "The whole thing was precipitated by this girlfriend -- who didn't even come down to testify. It was nothing but a bag of dirty tricks."

The two-day hearing that ended Feb. 5 had the drama of a soap opera.

City Attorney Jonathan Hodgson depicted Officer Whiting as a scorned woman who manipulated her ex-boyfriend, Timothy O. Bittinger, into signing a letter to call off the investigation.

Mr. Katz argued that his client was the victim of a vendetta by Mr. Bittinger's new girlfriend.

Intimate details of Officer Whiting's life were discussed at length during the hearing. Mr. Bittinger, a construction worker from Hanover, testified that he began dating another woman, Julie Puckett, while still seeing Officer Whiting.

The officer learned of the relationship when she found the two of them in bed together after a rock concert.

Ms. Puckett initiated the investigation against Officer Whiting by calling the Police Department and alleging that she had received threatening phone calls.

Officer Whiting denied that she made any threats against her boyfriend or Ms. Puckett. In fact, she said, Mr. Bittinger continued to call and pursue her, even as he asked for a restraining order to keep her away from him.

"I got in trouble because of a guy who lied and a woman with a fatal attraction," she said at the time of her conviction.

She could not be reached for comment Friday.

She was found guilty of making false statements to investigators and trying to stop the probe by drafting a letter accusing the city's internal affairs investigator of harassing her.

Mr. Bittinger signed the letter, but later said he did not agree with its contents.

Her attorney said Officer Whiting plans to appeal. Mr. Katz also said Friday that he has notified the city that she is filing a civil

suit claiming her rights were violated when investigators wiretapped a phone conversation without a warrant.

"We have not yet begun to fight," Mr. Katz vowed Friday.

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