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Ind. Officer Accused of Misconduct is Suspended

May 25--A 26-year veteran of the Fort Wayne Police Department has been suspended after a woman claimed he acted inappropriately during a traffic stop last year.

Detective Wayne E. Kelly, whose record includes five letters of excellence or commendation but 32 suspensions or letters of reprimand, was relieved of duties with pay May 20, according to Chief Rusty York. The board of safety could later decide whether to suspend Kelly without pay, exonerate him or terminate his employment.

As The News-Sentinel reported May 7, Penny Bryan was driving her red Prius on Ardmore Avenue in March 2010 when she was cited for driving 35 mph in a 30-mph zone. During the stop, Bryan said, the officer asked her for a date and wrote his private cell-phone number on the back of the ticket. The earlier News-Sentinel story did not reveal the officer's name or details of the conversation because he had not officially been charged with misconduct.

According to Bryan, 67, a former Fort Wayne Community Schools office employee, Kelly, who is black, asked her if she ever dated black men. Kelly never threatened her or promised anything in return, Bryan said.

York called the allegations "very disturbing." In addition to "inappropriate conduct" that York refused to identify, Kelly was also suspended for "investigative negligence" for which York also declined to provide details.

Kelly's suspensions include a yearlong unpaid absence imposed by the board of safety in 1989. That resulted when after a November 1988 traffic accident Kelly took the victim's wallet, which a paramedic said contained $897, without mentioning it in his report. When Kelly returned the wallet, however, the victim's widow said it contained about $200.

Then-police chief Neil Moore recommended that Kelly be fired for actions that "tended to demean, debase, ridicule, disgrace and degrade" the department.

Kelly was unavailable for comment this morning, but earlier this month he denied Bryan's allegations. He wrote his phone number on the ticket in case Bryan had any questions later, Kelly said.

"This must be a misunderstanding. I've never done anything like that. I'm a Christian man and have a reputation as a person who would not do something of that nature. This could ruin my career," he added.

Bryan hopes it does.

"I'm very pleased. I didn't know if anything would happen (to Kelly), so good for the department," she said.

"I was concerned about how young women might be intimidated (by such behavior). He doesn't deserve to wear that badge or have that power."