BEVERLY — An internal affairs investigation has concluded that no Beverly Police Department rules were violated leading up to the shooting of Patrolman Jason Lantych, in part because the department lacks rules or policies regarding personal relationships in the workplace.
The investigation, conducted by a former Methuen police chief at the request of Beverly police Chief Mark Ray, said there is no evidence that Lantych is guilty of either conduct unbecoming an officer or of conducting personal business on-duty, the only two rules that could have applied.
In arriving at that conclusion, the final report cited the "lack of rules or policies by the city or department regarding personal relationships in the workplace, combined with the legal limits to which an employer can lawfully regulate personal relationships in the workplace."
Lantych, 35, was shot twice by Hamilton police Sgt. Kenneth Nagy on Feb. 24 outside Starbucks on Route 1A in Beverly. Lantych survived, but Nagy later returned to the scene and killed himself with a gunshot to the head.
An investigation by Essex District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett's office said Nagy was upset over a perceived relationship between Lantych and Nagy's wife, Kate, who works in the Beverly Police Department's domestic violence unit.
While Blodgett's investigation focused on criminal wrongdoing, the internal affairs investigation by former Methuen police Chief Bruce MacDougall looked at whether Lantych or any other Beverly Police Department employees violated the department's "rules and regulations" or "policies and procedures."
MacDougall interviewed nine Beverly police officers, including Lantych, and Tina Nieves, director of the department's domestic violence program. He also reviewed email and cellphone records.
Kate Nagy refused to be interviewed on the advice of her attorney. She could not be compelled to answer questions because she is an employee of HAWC (Healing Abuse Working for Change), not the Beverly Police Department. HAWC is a nonprofit group that assists victims of domestic violence.
Lantych's fellow police officers said they knew that Lantych and Kate Nagy, who both grew up in Hamilton, were friends and they had heard rumors of a relationship between them. The two were seen together at a local Dunkin' Donuts, at a domestic violence fundraiser, and at a Chinese restaurant with a group of people after the fundraiser.
Kate Nagy and Lantych also attended domestic violence training in San Antonio in November, along with Beverly police Officer Daniel Brown. Brown said he saw nothing inappropriate on the trip.
Nieves, whose office is next to Kate Nagy's, said that, after the Texas trip Lantych began stopping by the office two to three times per week and would stay for 20 to 30 minutes, sometimes in uniform and sometimes in civilian clothes.
Nieves said she was unaware of any instances when the relationship interfered with the work of Lantych or Nagy.
Lantych told MacDougall that he had known Kate Nagy since grammar school. They grew up one street away from each other in Hamilton and rode the school bus together.
Cellphone records showed a total of 64 calls between Lantych and Kate Nagy from Oct. 4, 2011, through Feb. 25, 2012, the day after the shooting. Lantych initiated 36 of the calls, while Nagy initiated 28. Of the 60 calls between them from November through February, nine took place while Lantych was on duty.
Concerned about the rumors of the relationship, Capt. Christopher Negrotti said he took Lantych aside in February to talk with him "as a supervisor and as a friend." Lantych denied the relationship was anything more than a "close friendship."
MacDougall asked Lantych about Lt. Timothy Hegarty's testimony that Lantych had told him in the hospital that he "had a moment of weakness with Kate." Lantych said he had just come out of surgery and was on pain medication and does not remember talking to Hegarty.
MacDougall also asked about a statement by a witness at the shooting scene who quoted Lantych as saying Kenneth Nagy "had a couple of reasons to shoot me."
Lantych responded that he had just been shot, was in shock and had no recollection of saying those words.
MacDougall concluded that there was a lack of evidence that the relationship between Nagy and Lantych went beyond "emotional" and that "current social norms" leave in doubt whether an emotional relationship could be considered conduct unbecoming of an officer.
MacDougall said the city and Police Department also lack policies regarding personal relationships in the workplace, adding that the Police Department needs to update its rules and regulations, which were written in 1975, as well as its policy and procedure manual, which was last updated in 1994. He said rules and policies should follow standards set by the Commission for the Accreditation of Law Enforcement Agencies.
Lantych, who is out on paid sick leave, is recovering from his injuries "at very good speed," Ray said.
Kate Nagy is also out of work and is expected to return to HAWC in the fall, Ray said. Her position with the domestic violence unit has been filled on a temporary basis, although a HAWC employee will soon do the job on a regular basis, he said.
Paul Leighton may be contacted at email@example.com