AFFIDAVIT: Dashcam turned off during alleged sexual assault by former officer

FILE - Jonathan Gardner photo from 2014
FILE - Jonathan Gardner photo from 2014(Lawrence Police Dept.)
Published: May. 25, 2022 at 4:19 PM CDT
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LAWRENCE, Kan. (WIBW) - An affidavit released to 13 NEWS details how a former Lawrence Police officer accused of sexually assaulting a woman in his patrol vehicle had his dashcam manually turned off during the incident.

13 NEWS obtained the probable cause affidavit in the case of Jonathan Gardner, 41, of Tonganoxie, a former police officer for the Lawrence Police Department. The affidavit states that on Nov. 1, 2021, a Lieutenant with LPD contacted a woman who had emailed to report she had been raped by an officer.

The woman told the Lieutenant that on Jan. 1, 2017, she had left the former bar Tonic and was separated from her friends when she sought a ride home from a police officer, later identified as Gardner, on another call she met outside the Springhill Suites. On that ride home, she said the officer proceeded to rape her in his patrol vehicle.

In April 2021, the affidavit states the woman accompanied a friend to the Lawrence Police Department to report that a neighbor had harassed her. Gardner had been assigned to take the harassment report. Toward the end of the report, the document states that Gardner turned to the victim of the assault, who had been wearing a face mask, and told her that he remembered her from New Year’s.

The affidavit states the friend noticed how after Gardner had entered the room, the woman had “kinda shut down” and when he spoke to her, he called her by her first name, which had never been discussed during the harassment report.

That is when the affidavit states the woman was able to name the officer who had allegedly assaulted her. It said she had not known the name of the officer who gave her the ride before the April 2021 incident.

The document states that the Lieutenant noted that Gardner had in fact been dispatched to the Springhill Suites around 3 a.m. on Jan. 1, 2017, and that he left with two people in his patrol car. While GPS on Gardner’s patrol vehicle had registered his location earlier in the night, at the time of the alleged incident, the Lt. said he found the GPS had stopped registering Gardner’s location. He noted that he was unsure if there was an issue with the GPS or if Gardner deactivated it.

The affidavit also states that the Lieutenant found there had been no dash-camera footage of the entire reported ride home. He said he was unsure if the footage ever existed or if it had been purged from the system due to categorization strategies and the amount of time which had passed between the crime and the report.

On Nov. 1, 2021, the Kansas Bureau of Investigation was called in to help investigate and on Nov. 4 a special agent again spoke with the victim.

In the interview with KBI, the affidavit states that the woman told the agent she had been on probation and was under the age of 21 when she went to the bar with her friends and they had been “drinking quite a bit.” She admitted she had misplaced her purse and phone and became separated from her friends and again detailed the specifics of the attack.

According to the document, when KBI agents spoke with Gardner about the incident, he claimed to recall the incident in which he gave her a ride home but denied the assault. He had also claimed that the officer who assisted him claimed the woman had been a bit “handsy.” However, when the other officer was asked about the incident he reported he had no such memory and would have remembered as women usually do not get handsy with him on calls.

The affidavit continued to state that on Nov. 11, the Lieutenant had spoken with KBI agents and reported an analysis of the department’s database found Gardner had searched for the victim’s information and viewed her photo 12 times between Jan. 7, 2017, and Nov. 11, 2021. Further analysis of information on searches performed through the Kansas Criminal Justice Information System found Gardner had searched the victim’s personal information through that system five times between Jan. 7, 2017, and Nov. 4, 2021.

The affidavit also stated that the Lieutenant had told KBI agents after further research that a digital footprint was found related to the dashcam footage of Officer Gardner’s contact with the victim. He said the footprint revealed that the recording had been manually stopped. However, the footage had been purged from the system after 90 days.

When asked about the searches, as well as the lack of dashcam footage and GPS recordings, the affidavit states Gardner told the KBI he did not recall stopping the camera and did not know why a digital footprint revealed he had stopped the recording manually. He also said that any searches he performed on the victim had been for a “law enforcement purpose.”

Gardner was arrested for the crime in March after a lengthy investigation. The case has been granted criminal mediation according to the Douglas Co. District Attorney’s Office. However, if an agreed-upon outcome cannot be found within the mediation process, the case will proceed to trial.

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