According to the Omaha World-Herald, for some time, Quatisha Valentine would walk out of her home in the Muse Omaha apartments across from Creighton University to find her car vandalized. On most of those occasions, a bottom-feeder had dumped trash on her car. At least one time, someone had thrown an egg at her car. In one of the most unnerving incidents of all, someone had punctured a tire.
On Nov. 4, according to a post she made to Facebook, Valentine discovered a large bag of trash on her car. When the apartment office told her their cameras didn’t show anything, she set up a camera in her window. It only took one night to hit paydirt.
Sunday night, she wrote, she watched a man go to a nearby dumpster, take out a bag of trash, rip it open and dump it on top of her car. The man repeated his actions again to put trash on the trunk of her car. She took a photo of the man walking away from the car after the trash had been dumped.
Valentine’s photos show the man had dumped old drink containers, an oat milk carton, food takeout boxes and plastic bags on her car.
When Valentine went out to confront the bottom-feeder, she recognized him as William Klees, an officer with the Omaha Police Department who lives in her building. Valentine called the police, but when they arrived, Klees wouldn’t open the door for his colleagues.
By that Tuesday, Nov. 8, Klees had been placed on paid administrative leave while under investigation. By then, Valentine had left her apartment and was staying with friends. She told local media that she believes Klees was targeting her, and doesn’t feel that she had any security.
Watch more coverage from local ABC affiliate KETV here.
Klees, a five-year veteran of the Omaha Police Department, was cited for misdemeanor criminal mischief on Nov. 11; he faces a $1,000 fine and up to six months in jail. Valentine believed the misdemeanor charge is inadequate, in part because she felt harassed. Additionally, it would seem that intentionally puncturing Valentine’s tire takes this to another level.
On Nov. 14, hours before he was due to meet with internal affairs, Klees resigned. Apparently his lawyers had given him the same message that Omaha’s police chief gave to reporters: He was going to be fired.
Police Chief Todd Schmaderer said in a written statement that Klees resigned before an internal affairs interview scheduled for Monday. The resignation was accepted, Schmaderer said, and the Omaha Police Department will provide documentation to the Nebraska Crime Commission seeking a revocation of Klees’ law enforcement certificate.
“Officer Klees has completely disrupted the peace and sense of safety for Ms. Valentine. His actions are not indicative of the values of the hard-working women and men of the Omaha Police Department,” Schmaderer said. “His conduct is unbecoming of an officer and warrants his removal from the OPD.”
This is cold comfort to Valentine, who told KETV that she has moved out of Muse Omaha and is looking for another place to live. Even though Klees has also apparently moved out, Valentine made the good point that Klees “knows where I stay, he knows where I live,” and she no longer feels safe there.
If there’s any justice at all, though, the city of Omaha ought to foot the bill for Valentine’s moving expenses, which she’s currently crowdfunding with little success. She has to find another place to live because a city employee breached his trust in a despicable way. If I were Valentine, about the only way I wouldn’t at least be thinking about suing would be if the city of Omaha paid for the unexpected moving expenses.
This is a pretty dicey situation—and would be even without any possible racial considerations; Klees is white and Valentine is Black. As outrageous as Klees’ behavior was, this situation just barely toes the line between a felony and a misdemeanor. Based on my assessment, about the only way this could have been bumped up to a felony—which could have kept Klees in jail—would have been if he’d slashed two tires rather than one.
That doesn’t mean, however, that we should be done holding Klees to account. There needs to be a deep dive into every single case Klees worked in his five years as a cop, as well as the process by which he got his badge in the first place. If this guy was brazen enough to do this to Valentine, what else has he done to city residents? Moreover, this situation also raises questions about how he passed any psychological evaluation he needed to take in order to be hired. I’m reminded of Antoinette Frank, the New Orleans cop who killed one of her fellow officers as well as two members of a family who ran a Vietnamese restaurant, who somehow got hired despite a psychiatrist advising in no uncertain terms that she wasn’t fit to be an officer.
It won’t surprise me in the least if we end up adding Klees to a list of bad cops who never should have been hired in the first place, or kept their badges despite numerous red flags. Take Timothy Loehmann, Tamir Rice’s killer. He was somehow hired in Cleveland despite being deemed mentally unfit for duty by a police department in a nearby suburb. Or Cassie Barker, the Mississippi cop who kept her job despite leaving her daughter in a hot car not long after being hired—only to let her daughter roast to death in another hot car two days later. Or Frank, who was caught red-handed lying about her employment history and still got hired by New Orleans.
This situation is yet more proof that we need to have a conversation about police hiring standards. If people who even think it’s acceptable to vandalize others’ property aren’t stopped at the gates, is it any wonder that people don’t trust the police?
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