Sgt. Jeff Day has resigned from the Tisbury Police Department. Tisbury town administrator Jay Grande informed The Times of Day’s resignation on Tuesday, and said the sergeant’s last day was May 6.
“His resignation letter was accepted by myself, the town administrator, and the select board,” Tisbury Police Chief Chris Habekost said. Asked if Day gave a reason for his resignation, Habekost said, “He didn’t. He just said he’s resigning.”
Day didn’t immediately respond to a voice message seeking comment.
Day was placed on paid, nondisciplinary, administrative leave on Feb. 18. Grande previously said he was not at liberty to disclose why Day was placed on leave.
Day joined the Tisbury Police Department as a special officer in 2012 after he resigned from the Chilmark Police Department. In 2013, he became a full-time Tisbury Police officer. In 2019, on the recommendation of Tisbury Police Chief Mark Saloio, the Tisbury select board elevated Day to the rank of sergeant. That same year the select board issued Day a letter of commendation for restraint he showed when he and a West Tisbury Police officer squared off against a butcher knife–wielding man who’d allegedly told a dispatcher he would “kill the first police officer that came through the door.” Instead of using lethal force, which Chief Saloio later said would have been justified, Day and West Tisbury Police Lt. Matt Gebo tasered the man.
A portion of Day’s commendation letter stated, “The professionalism, composure, and awareness you displayed during this incident is nothing less than exemplary. You protected yourself, the community, and importantly the person at the center of this incident, suffering from mental illness. Your actions and professionalism in fact saved a life, and you are in line with the best, most noble aspects of our profession.”
Day racked up a number of disciplinary matters at the Tisbury Police Department. Foremost among his alleged department transgressions were allegations of gun theft and untruthfulness that arose following an internal investigation. As The Times previously reported (in an article that also covered Day’s misidentification and arrest of an innocent man), the alleged gun theft occurred when Day was a Chilmark Police officer, and received a pistol from a gun owner who wanted it destroyed. Day allegedly took the pistol home instead of destroying it. He later allegedly lied to Tisbury Police Chief Dan Hanavan about the situation. Tisbury resisted handing over that internal investigation report to The Times, but ultimately did. The report is linked here for the first time since its acquisition as a public record. The same report outlines an incident when Day allegedly had a car towed for questionable reasons, and another incident when Day was accused of emptying three to five Glock rounds into an allegedly truculent turkey, much to the chagrin of a neighbor who’d doted on the bird since it was a chick.
Unlike the gun theft incident, where Day denied he had made statements that were deemed to be untruthful by Chief Hanavan, Day admitted to Chief Saloio he “[expletive] up,” according to internal investigation records, after falsely arresting a 22-year-old man because his “distinctive gait” appeared similar to another man’s with one or more open warrants. Internal investigation records show Day allegedly arrested this man without checking his identification or even asking his name. The man wore mirrored sunglasses and a cowboy hat, according to internal investigation records and police reports, and wasn’t asked to remove them. Compounding the false arrest, the wrongly identified 22-year-old was taken to the Dukes County Jail, where he encountered his mother, a sheriff’s department sergeant. The idea that the 22-year-old was a wanted man quickly evaporated at that point. In a letter to the falsely arrested man, Chief Saloio expressed his apologies:
“On behalf of the Tisbury Police Department, I wish to extend my sincere apologies for the actions of Sgt. Day, toward you, on May 21st, 2021. Though the actions were neither ill-intentioned or deliberate, they were nonetheless preventable and inexcusable. As chief of the department, I take full responsibility for his mistake, and I apologize for any distress or embarrassment this incident may have caused for you, [redacted], and your family.”
Day is presently involved in a court matter where he may be the subject of a Brady rule motion. Edgartown defense attorney Ryan Searle, who represents Josuel Desouza and Eugene Jemison in two separate Tisbury Police cases, has filed motions to suppress evidence using the Brady rule. “The Brady Rule, named after Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83 (1963), requires prosecutors to disclose materially exculpatory evidence in the government’s possession to the defense,” online material from Cornell University’s Legal Information Institute states. “Brady material,” or evidence the prosecutor is required to disclose under this rule, includes any evidence favorable to the accused — evidence that goes towards negating a defendant’s guilt, that would reduce a defendant’s potential sentence, or evidence going to the credibility of a witness. However, the officer who is the focus of the motions has not been disclosed. The cases revolve around OUI charges against Desouza and Jemison. Day was the approving officer for at least one of the police reports generated from the OUI charges. Searle has filed a sweeping discovery motion for both cases, with an eye toward racial profiling.
A year following Jemison’s OUI charge, which was brought in 2019, Day was involved in a situation that resembled entrapment. Day charged Jemison with operating with a suspended driver’s license after an incident at the Vineyard Haven Post Office, after Day allegedly told Jemison a vehicle he was in, or had been in, at the Post Office, needed to be moved.
“He said he would take care of it,” a report states. After Jemison began to move the vehicle, Day pulled him over and told Jemison he had a suspended license. Jemison, according to a report, said he had a valid driver’s license. Day, a report shows, disagreed, and issued Jemison a citation and a summons.
Chief Habekost said he didn’t think Day’s availability for court would make a difference in the case on operating with a suspended license.
Last week, Tisbury’s select board plugged the departmental hole left by Day’s resignation. The board elevated not one but two officers to the rank of sergeant.