Civil Service Commission hears appeal of fired Fargo police officer

Justin Nachatilo and attorney Leo Wilking
FARGO (KVRR-KFGO) – The Fargo Civil Service Commission heard the appeal of former Fargo police officer Justin Nachatilo on Tuesday.

Nachatilo was fired in December after an internal review concluded he mishandled two cases.  He claims that improper considerations played a role in his firing, including inconsistent application of consequences for his situation versus those of officers who have faced similar complaints, insufficient investigation into his accounting of events, and unsubstantiated accusations. Nachatilo said he suffers from PTSD.

While he admitted that the condition had an impact on his ability to handle his workload at times, he took issue with Chief David Zibolski’s characterizations of his performance as “untruthful and unconscionable.”

Nachatilo’s attorney, Leo Wilking, also questioned former officer Michael Lovejoy, who left the Fargo Police Department after 19 years in November of 2021.

Lovejoy’s testimony focused on the lack of support for officers struggling with trauma and other work-related stressors. Lovejoy said that inattention to mental wellness has led to the department “chewing up officers and spitting them out when they’re no good to us any more.” He said that the department was prioritizing recruitment over retention, and losing good officers by choosing to discipline them rather than addressing mental health issues.

The Chief defended the decision to fire Nachatilo.

“These violations were brought to my attention by subordinate staff who recognized the relevance and significance of these policy violations and the relevant adverse effect it has on the safety and trust of our community as well as the good operations of the police department,” he said.

Some members of the commission requested more time to look at the evidence and paperwork submitted before making a final decision. The commission will reconvene Friday at 3:00 pm.

Categories: Local News, North Dakota News