Officials in a Connecticut town are fighting an order to reinstate a police sergeant fired two years ago for helping to cover up his police officer son’s role in a crash that killed a bicyclist.
An arbitration panel ruled that Robert Koistinen should get his job back after he was fired by the Windsor Locks police department, reported The (Hartford) Courant, but the town’s police commission decided Wednesday night that it would appeal that order.
Koistinen was fired after he was arrested and charged with hindering prosecution in the Oct. 29, 2010, crash that killed 15-year-old bicyclist Henry Dang.
The police sergeant’s son, Michael Koistinen – a rookie police officer at the time – was convicted of manslaughter and tampering with evidence. He is serving a 64-month sentence.
His father was acquitted of criminal charges in October 2012, a few months after his firing.
Robert Koistinen sued the town over his firing, and he recently sued state police, claiming false arrest.
The sergeant was the highest-ranking police officer who initially responded to the fatal crash, but prosecutors asked state police to take over a few days later due to concerns about the initial investigation.
State police said Robert Koistinen kept investigators from talking to his son immediately after the crash and did not share information about possible witnesses.
But the former officer’s false arrest suit claims state police either ignored or intentionally left out information that deviated from their belief that Robert Koistinen had tried to cover for his son.
The appeal of the arbitration panel’s ruling will be heard in court.
Town officials said they had worked to restore community trust after the fatal crash and subsequent cover-up, and they said reinstating Koistinen would not be in the town’s best interest.
“This town just can’t have him back on the force,” said resident Kimberly Pease. “There’s no way. He’s lost all credibility.”
Watch this video report posted online by WTIC-TV: