Tisbury Police Officer Mark Santon was fired Friday after a closed-door disciplinary hearing before the board of selectmen.
The hearing came just one week after the 25-year veteran of the police department was placed on paid administrative leave. It was his second stint on paid leave in 2017.
“The hearing has concluded, and Mr. Santon is no longer an employee of the Town of Tisbury,” town administrator Jay Grande wrote in an email.
Police Chief Daniel Hanavan, Lt. Eerik Meisner, and Sgt. Kindia Roman were inside the hearing room, as were attorneys for the town, Mr. Santon, and several other Tisbury officers.
The decision to part company with Mr. Santon came one day after a drunken driving case he investigated was dismissed in Edgartown District Court. On Thursday, the Cape and Islands District Attorney’s office decided it no longer had sufficient evidence to prosecute the case.
The charge against Justin Kuruvilla, 35, of Brooklyn, was dropped, and a motion to dismiss was signed by Judge James McGovern.
A handwritten note on the case file states, “Nolle prosequi. Insufficient evidence to establish operation element based on supplemental reports received after arraignment.”
Tisbury Police Officer Mark Santon was responsible for writing an initial police report that got the facts of the case wrong. He charged Mr. Kuruvilla with operating under the influence of alcohol, even though a special police officer who was the first to arrive on the scene found the keys were not in the ignition, and the hood of the car was cool to the touch. That officer wrote a supplemental report that contradicted Officer Santon’s account, and Officer Santon also amended his report, but it was too late. Mr. Kuruvilla had already been arraigned on the charge in early September.
As The Times reported, Officer Santon was placed on leave last Friday, pending a disciplinary hearing before the board of selectmen that was scheduled for Friday morning, Dec. 15, town administrator Jay Grande said.
The hearing was to “review personnel matters,” Mr. Grande said. “I don’t feel I’m at liberty to go beyond that.”
He declined to say what those personnel matters were, but Officer Santon’s arrest of Mr. Kuruvilla was likely part of the reason, as the paid leave followed recent scrutiny of the case.
Officer Santon faced other issues as well. More recently, he’s been part of the ongoing probe into Assistant District Attorney Laura Marshard. The Massachusetts Board of Bar Overseers, which has been investigating Ms. Marshard, asked for disciplinary records involving Officer Santon, because he testified at a rape trial prosecuted by Ms. Marshard while he was out on paid leave last spring. There are questions about whether Ms. Marshard informed the defense lawyers that Officer Santon was under investigation.
Officer Santon was suspended five days by selectmen after a disciplinary hearing in May. He was found to have lied to an independent investigator about a January arrest. While his cruiser was parked at the Dukes County jail and Officer Santon was inside, the woman prisoner wiggled out of her handcuffs and attempted suicide.
In 2015, he faced a two-day suspension — one day for spreading a fabricated story about a supervisor, and the other for tampering with a laptop he turned in to the department.