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Herington’s ex-chief, assistant charged

Staff writer

A May 18 incident in Herington in which the police chief and assistant allegedly forced their way into a residence without a search warrant resulted Sept. 8 in criminal charges against both.

Chief John V. Matula, 36, who resigned Friday, is charged in Dickinson County District Court with criminal damage to property for allegedly damaging doors, a deadbolt, and a camera belonging to Donna McCullough-Barta. He additionally is charged with trespass for entering the home.

He could face up to six months in jail or a fine of up to $1,000 for each charge.

Assistant chief Curtis M. Tyra, 43, who is on extended leave, is charged with criminal trespass.

Both men hired Emporia lawyer Monte L. Miller to defend them and are scheduled to appear in court Oct. 14.

The incident was investigated by the Kansas Bureau of Investigation.

Herington city manager Branden Dross said the search originated with a city code violation.

Dross said Matula was hired in November and Tyra was promoted to assistant chief in January.

On the day charges were filed, Matula submitted his resignation. Sergeant Chad Langley was named interim chief on Friday.

Dross said discussions are being held with Tyra.

Matula and Tyra could lose their law enforcement certification.

Doug Schroeder, executive director of Kansas Commission on Peace Officers’ Standards and Training, said the charges Matula and Tyra face are cause for investigation by his group.

“Our training act contains just over 50 misdemeanors that could be investigated, and they could lose their certification,” Schroeder said.

Schroeder said decisions about revoking an officer’s certification were based on the officer’s conduct, not on criminal charges or convictions.

“We typically wait for the criminal proceedings, but we do our investigation,” he said.

Listed as witnesses against the two are Samuel Riffle; police officers Chad Langley, Jonathan Thompson, Curtis Tyra, Andrew Avantagiato, and Jennifer Hewins; former police chief Brian Hornaday; city enforcement officer Chrystal Parris; WatchGuard cyber security personnel; Trenten Matthew Svitak; Donna McCullough-Barta; and Jessica Rene Christyauntie.

Last modified Sept. 16, 2021

 

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