The mayor of Torrington fired the city's Police Chief Eric Sharp after a Goshen County Sheriff's investigation found he caused a hit-and-run accident that broke a utility pole last week, Mayor Mike Varney said Thursday.

"I just had to determine that termination of employment was the appropriate action, and the matter is a confidential personnel matter, consequently no further comment can be made," Varney said.

The case started when a power pole was struck at 22nd and East A streets about 1:30 a.m. Oct. 13, he said. The pole was broken in three pieces, with part of the pole dangling from the wires. The city's utility department responded to ensure power would not go out in that part of the city, Varney said.

Meantime, police officers determined it was a hit-and-run, he said. They contacted the sheriff's ffice to investigate independently because they suspected one of their own officers may have been involved in the accident.

Courtesy, City of Torrington
Eric Sharp. Courtesy, City of Torrington

The sheriff's office determined the damage to the pole was consistent with damage to Sharp's pickup, and charged him with reckless driving and leaving the scene of an accident, Varney said.

The Torrington Telegram reported Sheriff Donald Murphy said too much time had elapsed between the accident and the locating Sharp's vehicle to determine whether Sharp had been driving under the influence.

Sharp pleaded guilty to the charges and paid a fine in Goshen County Court on Wednesday, and that closed the case.

Varney met with Sharp on Tuesday and suspended him without pay until late Wednesday when the mayor gave him the termination notice, he said.

The mayor appointed Doug Weeks as the interim police chief and Mike Matthews will remain assistant chief, he said. The city's police department has 21 employees including 13 officers, Varney said.

These kinds of decisions are tough because he appointed Sharp as police chief in early 2015, he said. "It's not anything you take any strength from or any good feelings about, you just always have to face that."

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