A Columbus police officer is on desk duty while his conduct after a November traffic stop is investigated.
Officer Chris O’Neall had his badge and gun taken on April 5 after the Division of Police received information that he might have had an inappropriate relationship with Cecily Ferris, whom he stopped on Nov. 24 on I-71 near E. Main Street, said Sgt. Rich Weiner, a division spokesman.
O’Neall waited more than four months before charging her with operating a vehicle while impaired and failing to drive within lanes. O’Neall, 34, has been a Columbus police officer for five years and had been assigned to patrol.
After stopping Ferris, O’Neall gave her a breath test and took her to a hospital for a blood test, her attorney, Joseph Landusky, said. Because her car had been towed, O’Neall drove her in his squad car to her German Village house.
Ferris phoned the police dispatcher to express her thanks to O’Neall, her attorney said. O’N eall and Ferris then exchanged about 200 text messages over subsequent weeks.
Landusky characterized the messages by O’Neall as flirting. One of his messages was, “You’re kind of hot,” he said. O’Neall also said in other messages that he was single and lonely, Landusky said.
But then Ferris received a phone call from O’Neall’s wife, who said he was married and accused her of having an affair with him, Landusky said. Ferris texted O’Neall not to contact her again. O’Neall received the blood-test results on Jan. 15 but didn’t file charges against Ferris in Franklin County Municipal Court until March 28. Landusky said the blood test showed she had no alcohol in her system, only prescribed medication.
Ferris did not complain to police about O’Neall’s conduct, Landusky said. “She’s not interested in doing anything to harm this guy. But she didn’t think she should be charged.”
Weiner would not say what led the division to investigate O’Neall.
“Because of the position of power he holds,” Weiner said, “we have to look at it to see if there’s any abuse of that power.”