Supreme Court upholds firing of Strasburg officer

By Joe Beck

Strasburg Police Chief Tim Sutherly said Tuesday he was relieved that his long effort to fire former officer Aaron H. Lewis has ended successfully with the Virginia Supreme Court’s recent rejection of an attempt by Lewis to appeal his firing.

The court’s decision came about four years after Sutherly presented Lewis with a letter firing him. The letter cited a complaint from a 17-year-old girl and her parents who reported that an unknown Strasburg police officer hit her in the face with a flashlight. The officer was later identified as Lewis.

Sutherly said he was always confident that the firing would be upheld, despite all the legal challenges that came with it.

“I’m glad it’s over after four years,” Sutherly said. “We always felt we were on firm ground legally. It was definitely a long and difficult road. But it was the right road.”

The incident that led to Lewis’s firing involved the execution of a search warrant at a house on Washington Street on Dec. 18, 2009.

Lt. Jason Ford testified before a three-member panel convened by the city that he found the girl with a small scrape on her nose and small nosebleed during execution of the search warrant.

Sutherly also accused Lewis of falsifying records and violating safety rules without a threat to life in the case.

“Although you deny the allegations, the evidence in this case is overwhelmingly against you in all three allegations,” Sutherly wrote in his letter to Lewis.

Sutherly said Tuesday the firing was “nothing personal” against Lewis.

“We thank him for his service and wish him luck in future endeavors,” Sutherly said.

Contact staff writer Joe Beck at 540-465-5137 ext. 142, or jbeck@nvdaily.com