WARREN, Ohio (WKBN) – A Warren police officer who claimed a man he stopped to help shot at him has been fired and now faces felony criminal charges.
On Wednesday, the Warren Police Department fired 23-year-old Noah Linnen.
In Linnen’s termination letter, Chief Eric Merkel wrote, “Your criminal acts, dishonesty, lack of integrity and total disregard for the implications of your actions clearly prove that you do not subscribe to the morals, values and mission of the Warren Police Department.”
According to investigators, Linnen initially said he had been shot but changed his story about what happened multiple times, leading them to believe he was lying.
“These statements were wrought with inconsistencies and did not corroborate physical findings. Ultimately, on Monday, January 20, 2020, you confessed to Howland PD that your original claim was fabricated and that the scene was staged to mimic an armed robbery attempt and shooting,” Chief Merkel wrote in Linnen’s termination letter.
Linnen was booked into the jail just before 5:30 p.m. Tuesday. He’s facing charges of tampering with evidence, falsification, interrupting public service and inducing panic.
“Believing at face value that you had been shot, over 50 police officers from at least 10 law enforcement agencies responded to your call for help. These officers traveled the streets of our communities at high rates of speed, jeopardizing the lives of our citizens and themselves — for a hoax! In an effort to apprehend your assailant, these officers detained innocent persons. These officers neglected other calls for service as they searched for someone who didn’t exist,” Merkel wrote in the letter.
During a press conference Wednesday, investigators released more details on what led to his arrest.
Linnen was off duty the evening of January 13 when he said he stopped along Pine Avenue in Howland Township to help a man with a disabled vehicle.
He first said a black man in a black SUV shot at him during a robbery attempt and drove away. During this attempt, he said he exchanged gunfire with the man.
Investigators in Howland said upon questioning, Linnen changed his story about what happened multiple times, first saying the man drove away and later saying he was on a bicycle.
Investigators say evidence at the scene, including surveillance video from the surrounding area, didn’t match up.
Police said Linnen eventually admitted that he shot at a car, which had gone left of center, nearly hitting his vehicle as he was on the side of the roadway. He said that angered him and he fired shots at the vehicle from his car.
After realizing what he did, he told investigators that he fired shots at his own vehicle and staged the scene so he wouldn’t get in trouble, according to investigators.
Investigators say they’re still trying to determine whether this statement is true, due to past conflicting statements made by Linnen.
Howland Police Chief Nick Roberts called Linnen’s actions disheartening as a law enforcement officer.
“Every once in a while, you are going to have an incident when you have a rogue officer who makes some poor decisions and it tarnishes everyone.,” Roberts said.
Warren Police Chief Eric Merkel held another press conference with city officials on Wednesday. He issued a public apology to the community, saying the allegations are a huge setback to the police department.
“It’s outrageous; make no bones about that,” Merkel said.
Linnen appeared in court Wednesday morning to answer to the charges. His bond was set at $10,000, and he’s scheduled to appear in court again February 20.
Linnen was sworn into the Warren Police Department in February 2018.