Lakeland, FL -- A shocking development on Wednesday in the Lakeland PD scandal.The woman at the center of it all, Sue Eberle, was officially fired.
Eberle, who considers herself a whistleblower, has threatened to file a lawsuit against the department for a hostile work environment, accusing several officers of coercing her to have sex.
"As of today, she has been terminated," said Lakeland Police Chief Lisa Womack.
"Conduct unbecoming, untruthfulness, and required conduct and cooperation during an investigation for case 12-025," said Womack.
That was thecase that started it all.
It involved an allegation of sex in an abandoned church between Eberle and a now-former officer who has since quit the force.
Womack concluded Eberle tried to cover it up, lied, and when faced with termination, went public with what has turned out to be a far more widespread embarrassment.
"This has been a very sad chapter for the Lakeland Police Department," said Chief Womack.
"This is just another hit, you know? She was down. This is just another kick in the ribs," saidDavid Linesch, Eberle's attorney.
Linesch,who sat listening at the back of the room during the hearing, called it shameful.Eberle, he said, was described as exceptionally cooperative in the State Attorney'sinvestigative report which brought he scandal to light.
He repeated Eberlehad beenthe victim of a hostile work environment, and threatened to sue.
"If need be, I will litigate this to the very end. I think a jury would be extremely sympathetic to Sue's claims and I think they would reward her significant damages," said Linesch.
In addition to Eberle being dismissed, 10 Lakeland officers have lost their jobs in the wake of the scandal as well as one firefighter.SevenLakeland officers have received discipline, reprimands and/or counseling.Five others were implicated, but those allegations were never substantiated.
"I believe that the disciplinary decisions have been appropriate. I believe they've been fair. I believe they've been consistent. And I believe we are now closing this particular chapter," Womack told the civilian panel reviewing the case.
Going forward, Womack outlined steps the department is now taking to ensure higher ethical training and standards.
She called it "the lifeguard" approach: blowing the whistle on rule violations, ready to jump in at the first sign of trouble.
It's a safety net Sue Eberle's lawyer saysthe now-formercivilian crime analystnever had.
"There wasn't any lifeguard on duty when Sue Eberle worked here," said Linesch.
Chief Womack says Wednesday's announcements mark the end of their disciplinary investigation.
Before being fired, Eberle had been on paid leave.
Her attorney says they'd be willing to discuss a financial settlement.
Recent Lakeland PD stories:
- State Attorney alleges Lakeland PD sexual misconduct
- More details on Lakeland PD sex scandal
- Lakeland Police have history of sex on job
- Lakeland Police make woman shake bra during search
- Woman at center of LPD sex scandal comes forward
- 10 News EXCLUSIVE: more unflattering pics surface of LPD
- LPD Chief Womack faces council amid sex scandal
- Lakeland Chief "chats" about changing culture at dept.
- Sex scandal forces long-time Captain to retire
- Advisory board assigned to Lakeland PD sex scandal
- 2 police sergeants fired, another resigns
- 2 more LPD officers out of a job
- LPD Chief outlines next steps in sex scandal investigation
- Community commission gears up to examine LPD sex scandal
- Mayor disappointed after Lakeland PD panel resignations
- Lakeland fire inspector latest to quit in city's sex scandal
- Lakeland Police chief facing scrutiny
- Lakeland denies less-than-thorough vetting of Chief Womack