Government

Iowa City police officer, fired for alleged drunken crash, appeals termination

People walk by the Iowa City City Hall which includes the Police Department in Iowa City on Wednesday, November 5, 2014.
People walk by the Iowa City City Hall which includes the Police Department in Iowa City on Wednesday, November 5, 2014. (The Gazette)

IOWA CITY — An Iowa City police officer was fired last month for allegedly driving drunk, crashing his vehicle and lying about the circumstances of the crash to the police department, according to city documents.

That officer, Terry Tack, 49, appealed his termination and is seeking reinstatement. In a notice of appeal filed by his attorney, Skylar J. Limkemann, Tack says his termination lacked proper cause and sufficient grounds, is unreasonable and inconsistent with due process, among other reasons.

The city’s civil service commission is scheduled to hear the case Wednesday and issue a decision on Tack’s employment status, possibly at a later date.

Tack was fired on Jan. 21 and he appealed his termination in documents filed with the city on Feb. 4. The police department and Police Chief Jody Matherly responded with a specification of charges on Feb. 6.

According to that specification and court documents, Tack drank “to the point of intoxication” while off duty at three bars during the afternoon and evening of Nov. 24, 2019, and drove home. Tack hit a utility pole around 10:05 p.m. at 510 E. Benton St., causing damage to the pole and approximately $7,000 worth of damage to his Toyota 4Runner, according to the reports.

Authorities said Tack fled the scene as neighbors exited their homes and did not leave contact information or contact the property owner about the damage.

The next day, again according to city documents, Tack contacted Iowa City police officer Ian Alke for help in writing up a crash report.

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“I need your help,” Tack allegedly told Alke. “I hit something with my car.”

Iowa City Civil Service Commission document about Terry Tack

Authorities said Tack told Alke he did not hit anyone with his car, but struck a large rock adjacent to the roadway. He also told Alke he found a piece of his bumper near the crash location.

Authorities also said Tack met with Alke near 500 S. Governor Street. Despite the significant damage and parts missing to Tack’s vehicle, authorities said none of the missing parts were found near the rock on South Governor Street nor was there any “disturbance” to the leaves near the rock or the rock itself.

After completing the report, Alke submitted it and brought it to the attention of Lt. Kevin Heick, telling Heick he “considered the report ‘a big deal.’”

Heick then reviewed calls for service for Nov. 24, went to South Governor Street and then to Benton Street where he “found an abundance of wreck debris” consistent with Tack’s vehicle. Heick then reported the issue to Matherly, Capt. Bill Campbell and Lt. Zach Diersen.

Authorities said Diersen spoke on the phone with Tack, who said that he “had looked down, veered off the road and struck the rock on S. Governor,” the specification of charges states. The Iowa State Patrol was brought in to investigate the crash and ultimately charged him with striking fixtures upon a highway.

Tack pleaded guilty and was fined $65.

Authorities said in city documents that Tack admitted in an interview that he did not remember being at the third bar the night of Nov. 24, how he got home or what he hit with his vehicle. He said his memory loss was not the result of medication or any medical condition.

“He acknowledges he did not remember details of the evening because of the alcohol he consumed,” city documents state.

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The city says Tack did not act with integrity when reporting details of the crash to Alke, Diersen and the state patrol. Johnson County Attorney Janet Lyness said Tack’s actions would affect his ability to be a credible witness if he remained a police officer, the city stated.

While Tack has not been charged with drunken driving, the police department’s internal affairs investigation determined Tack violated “numerous” department rules and regulations, as well as city personnel policies.

Comments: (319) 339-3155; lee.hermiston@thegazette.com

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