He alleged he was shot by a black man during a robbery when he was off-duty.
Warren police officer, Noah Linnen, subsequently changed his story about the alleged January 13 robbery four different times. His dishonesty led to at least three innocent black men being detained for a “significant amount of time.”
His false report also resulted in at least 50 officers from 10 different agencies combing the areas of Warren, Howland and Niles in search of the alleged black male suspect in a black SUV, according to the Tribune Chronicle.
The 23-year-old’s series of blatant lies and its uncovering led to his dismissal as an officer of the Warren Police Department on January 22.
“Your criminal acts, dishonesty, lack of integrity and total disregard for the implication of your actions clearly prove that you do not subscribe to the morals, values and mission of the Warren Police Department,” Warren police Chief Eric Merkel wrote in Linnen’s disciplinary letter. “Your description subjected every black male in the entire Trumbull County area, especially in the near vicinity, to the torment of being accused of shooting a police officer.
“Your description perpetuated a stereotype that black males make more credible suspects,” Merkel added, the Tribune Chronicle reports.
“You sparked an emotion throughout the black community that widens the gap of police-community relations.
“I will not allow one officer’s actions to tarnish the relationship we have built with our community.”
Linnen reportedly fabricated the lies after he admitted he shot his service weapon three times at another car with bright headlights he thought was driving towards the parked vehicle he was in. He claimed he then tried to shoot himself in the shoulder in an attempt to frame being robbed by a black man to cover up his discharge of the service weapon.
According to Linnen’s first account to Howland police, he claimed a black man pulled a “silver revolver with a black handle” at him when he parked to offer assistance thinking his car had broken down. He alleged the suspect demanded for his gun and money after asking if he was a police officer, the Tribune Chronicle reports.
Linen added that he exchanged fire with the alleged black suspect after managing to divert his attention by throwing his police badge on the ground.
Despite his description of the suspect, investigators found a lot of inconsistencies in the affidavit after interrogating witnesses. Howland and Niles police also reportedly pulled over black SUVs and detained three black men “for a significant period of time until it was determined that they were not involved in the incident.”
Besides “misleading” officers and “fabricating” the crime scene, the affidavit also states that Linnen “wrongfully describing and accusing a black person by physical description was an attempt to corrupt the outcome of their investigation and led to innocent persons being detained by police,” the Tribune Chronicle reports.
After sticking to his first story despite the contradictions that were revealed to him, he remained adamant. He later backtracked and claimed he may have given a wrong account due to stress.
He later on changed his story and claimed the suspect wasn’t driving an SUV, but was rather riding a bicycle. No bicycles were, however, located at the alleged crime scene.
His final version of his account exposed him.
Linnen appeared before Trumbull County Common Pleas Judge Ronald Rice on January 22 on charges of tampering with evidence, inducing panic, disrupting public services and falsification, the Tribune Chronicle reports. He pleaded not guilty. He was released on a $10,000 cash or surety bond. His next appearance, which is a pretrial hearing, is February 20. The first three charges are felonies.
“This agency has undergone years of transformation in order to rebuild public trust,” Merkel stated in Linnen’s disciplinary letter. “I will not allow one officer’s actions to tarnish the relationship we have built with our community.”