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Fired Officer Denies Allegations Made By City Manager

8:10 PM, Jul 16, 2013   |    comments
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Columbia, SC (WLTX) - A former Columbia Police Department captain denies allegations made by the city that he shredded documents and recorded a conversation between him and Interim Chief Ruben Santiago.

City leaders terminated David Navarro Monday. City Manager Theresa Wilson says Navarro was fired for violating city policy.

Navarro, though, maintains it was over conversations he had with Santiago. He says the chief asked for his help about a plan to remove a city employee from his job.

"He asked me to assist him in planting a stolen pistol, a stolen gun, and some powder cocaine," Navarro said.  "He asked me that over the course of six to eight months.  He asked me to do that and there's specific locations, but I don't want to ruin anyone's reputation as a business.  We went to two restaurants, one on Gervais Street and one on Taylor Street, and these things were talked about by him.  He requested that I assist him with these things."

Navarro says he was fired for telling the State Law Enforcement Division about the plan.  Navarro says the plan was called "black-ops."

"Out of fear for my life and fear for my family, there are a couple of officers I revealed this thing too.  You know I said, 'they are asking me to do criminal activity,'" Navarro said. 

Navarro says talk of the plot started around January.He claims he didn't report it then because the interim chief told him the covert plan was just a joke.

"He would call me at home and he would talk to me for some time you know I guess to feel me out," Navarro said.

Navarro was told he was being reassigned from a community relations role to commander of West Region, which includes Harbison Boulevard.

"That's perfect for me.  That would have been the ideal thing for me, to just be quiet, and basically do my year and nine months and leave quietly," Navarro said.  "I spent 20 years in the Army.  Flawless career.  I have 14 years in law enforcement.  I have one year and nine months left to retire. I am 53 years old.  I can retire at 55.  Why would any person with that type of a record want to risk everything to create something like this?"

Late Tuesday afternoon, Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin asked the State Law Enforcement Division to investigate Navarro's claims. Earlier in the day, Santiago and the Fifth Circuit Solicitor's Office asked SLED to investigate Navarro's time with the city, 
and the possible misappropriation of funds for a charity associated with the police department. Previous Coverage: Mayor Askes SLED to Investigate Officer's Claims | SLED to Investigate Columbia Police Department

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