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Published March 17, 2014, 09:53 PM

Internal probe recommended firing Fargo police lieutenant day before suicide

Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) - Documents released by Fargo Police show that prior to the suicide of Lt. Jeff Skuza last week, he had been the subject of an internal investigation.

Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) - Documents released by Fargo Police show that prior to the suicide of Lt. Jeff Skuza last week, he had been the subject of an internal investigation.

In letters one day before Skuza killed himself, the department's three deputy chiefs recommended he be fired because of what happened.

The chief tells me Skuza was the subject of an internal investigation after accidentally discharging his Taser and attempting to cover it up.

Chief Keith Ternes/Fargo Police Department: "It quickly evolved into one of the most, if not the most serious transgression, that being dishonesty and untruthfulness."

A Personnel Complaint filed by an officer on the department said Skuza accidentally discharged his Taser in a clearing barrel, then went to efforts to dispose of the cartridge and wires and took part in an investigation to find the person responsible.

It says "Lieutenant Skuza did not report this incident and was deceptive in regards to the efforts made to identify the officer responsible for the Taser discharge."

Ternes: "We really have someone who is charged with enforcing the department’s policies who is now violating them."

Ternes says the departments three deputy chiefs discussed what discipline to impose on Skuza - considering demotion or suspension. Ultimately, the decision was termination.

Ternes: "My receiving a discipline recommendation from Jeff's superiors where they came to the conclusion that because of the magnitude of what we're dealing with that Jeff's employment with the department be terminated."

When I asked Ternes why Skuza wasn't suspended or demoted,

Ternes: "In law enforcement there is no substitute for your integrity and there is no substitute for honesty and there is no such thing as just a little lie."

As the department continues to mourn Skuza's loss - Ternes stressed he doesn't want the investigation to overshadow Skuza's exemplary police career.

I’m told this isn't the only time an officer has mishandled a piece of equipment.

Ternes told me typically after the officer files a report they are disciplined and have to take remedial training for their weapon.

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