More questions than answers in CPD investigation

Dave Navarro
Dave Navarro
Ruben Santiago
Ruben Santiago

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - One day after Capt. Dave Navarro was fired from the Columbia Police Department, more questions are being asked surrounding Navarro's accusations and the response from the city.

In an effort to help folks understand the timeline of events, we're taking a look at what led to Navarro's firing and how the events unfolded. 

We know Navarro was fired on Monday. Before that, he was put on unpaid suspension for three days. The city claims it was for insubordination and an unauthorized audio recording.

In an exclusive interview with Jody Barr, Navarro claims 6 to 8 months ago he was first approached by then Deputy-Chief Ruben Santiago to frame Assistant City Manager Allison Baker by planting a gun and drugs in his car.

"He didn't just tell me a gun, he told me, 'Dave, it must be a stolen gun,' and he also said cocaine and I asked him that question, 'Why cocaine, chief? Nobody will believe that Mr. Alison Baker would use crack cocaine,'" said Navarro.

Navarro says Santiago approached him two more times about the same scheme. Navarro says he did not come forward earlier because he feared retaliation.

"After that phone call to SLED, I immediately felt retaliation from Chief Santiago," said Navarro. "Things began to move immediately."

Interim Chief Santiago says recently he found out about an audio recording he says Navarro made of a conversation between the two of them back in January. Santiago contends Navarro was upset about making a lateral move within the department.

"I actually confronted him about the recording," said Santiago. "I learned about it a few weeks ago. Several weeks ago. Less than three weeks ago and I asked him, I said it bothers me that you would try to do something like that and I didn't get to hear the recording until a week later. But I confronted him and I said I know you recorded me. I was told you recorded me and he admitted he recorded me. Which I can only speculate as to why he would try to do that, maybe to convince somebody that his agenda was more important and he needed to stay."

Last week, everything came to a head. Tuesday, July 9, Navarro claims he reported the scheme to City Manager Teresa Wilson. The next day, Wednesday, July 10, Navarro says he filed a report with SLED and CPD internal affairs. That's the same day he was suspended without pay, Navarro says without any explanation.

We made several inquiries about Navarro and a possible investigation, but the city declined to acknowledge any investigation or provide additional information.

On Monday, July 15, Navarro was fired. That's when the city cites the unauthorized recording, insubordination, and the spreading rumors as the reasons for his release.

"When people go to that depth, those lengths to discredit an individual, an organization, bordering on slanderous commentary, it needs to be investigated," said Wilson.

SLED officials said investigators have "begun an investigation" into the Columbia Police Department, but they have not specified what charges or allegations they are looking into.

Interim Chief Santiago asked SLED to investigate Navarro's actions including the shredding of documents and the possible misappropriation of funds. Mayor Steve Benjamin also asked SLED to investigate Navarro's accusations.

We will continue to follow developments in this story.

Copyright 2013 WIS. All rights reserved.