A 10-year Utah Highway Patrol veteran has been dismissed after acknowledging he took a Hooper man's sunglasses, a UHP official said Friday.
Sgt. Paul Mangelson said Trooper Carl Howard, who has been stationed in Juab County for 10 years and served as a law enforcement officer in the county for 14 years, told superiors he took the $40 sunglasses from Steve E. Thomas' car when he pulled the man over on the night of Feb. 14.Mangleson said termination proceedings were begun against Howard the day he acknowledged the incident. The trooper was suspended with pay pending the outcome of those proceedings.
Thomas received word of the action Wednesday in a March 6 letter from Juab County Attorney Donald J. Eyre Jr.
"When I read that letter, my eyes nearly bugged out of my head," Kathy Thomas, Steve Thomas' wife, said Thursday.
She said she and her husband had little faith that anything would come of the complaint they made against Howard because, "When you have to choose between believing a civilian and a policeman, most people are going to choose the cop."
Thomas said he was speeding when Howard pulled him over just south of Nephi on Valentine's Day. He said Howard was justified in giving him a citation for going 80 in a 65 mph zone.
Thomas said he got annoyed, however, when Howard then accused him of being under the influence of alcohol and insisted on searching his car, eventually alleging the man was in possession of drug paraphernalia when he found a package of cigarette papers in the vehicle.
He said the officer never gave him a sobriety test, nor would Howard allow him within 10 feet of the car while he was searching it.
Thomas said he was furious when he discovered later that evening that his sunglasses were missing from the glove box. He contacted the UHP and the Juab county attorney and insisted on an investigation.
Eyre said Friday that no criminal charges have been filed against Howard. Mangelson said the UHP won't pursue charges, and that if Thomas wants charges filed, he's going to have to do it himself.
Mangelson said Howard is trying to secure a transfer to another Utah department not involved in law enforcement.