PITTSTON, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU-TV) — A Pittston police officer has been fired after being charged with vandalizing vehicles in Pittston in August.
Investigators say 44-year-old Dion Fernandes was caught on video slashing tires.
Fernandes admits to committing the crimes. It happened on Main Street in Pittston. City officials and residents tell us that Fernandes violated the public’s trust.
Video taken by an eyewitness to the incident shows a man puncturing and slashing the tires on vehicles in downtown Pittston on the night of August 29.
A state police investigation determined that the man in the video is Fernandes, seen here when he surrendered to face a felony charge of criminal mischief.
“Speaking for myself and Council it was the right thing to do. I mean termination is where we had to go. It’s a serious enough matter that police officers, it’s public trust, it’s an unfortunate event but I feel very comfortable making hard decisions. It’s not something I’m going to shy away from,” said Mayor of Pittston Michael Lombardo.
According to arrest affidavits, Fernandes called his friend who was on duty as a Pittston police officer, to bring a knife to Downtown Pittston.
He and another officer brought the knife to Fernandes. They say Fernandes appeared to be drinking and said he was angry because he had been “cut off” at a local restaurant. They left unaware of why Fernandes wanted the knife.
A short time later they were called back to Main Street about a complaint that tires on vehicles had been slashed. We learned today that these two officers were disciplined shortly after the incident.
“I believe they didn’t go down there with an intent knowing what the officer was going to do. We’ve seen situations play out around the country with senior officers being in situations and younger officers maybe feeling not comfortable to push or question,” said Lombardo.
The incident is still the talk of this city.
“I thought it was crazy because I heard a lot of good things about the police officer. Whatever happened I don’t really know. I imagine there was some drinking going on… It’s not good,” said Rich Makauskas of Pittston.
Lombardo says Fernandes admitted to the crimes when he was interviewed by city officials. We reached out to Fernandes for comment but have not heard back.
Eyewitness News is not identifying those two officers since they have not been charged with a crime.