2 Danville cops suspended for drinking after hours at bar on night owner was killed

2 Danville cops suspended for drinking after hours at bar on night owner was killed

DANVILLE — Two Danville police officers have been suspended without pay for five days after security video from JJ's 610 Tap revealed they were drinking after hours at the Danville tavern on the same morning the bar's owner was found murdered at his home.

Danville Public Safety Director Larry Thomason said officers Austin Buckley and Troy Nipper have been suspended for violation of department rules and regulations and for violation of a city ordinance — being in a business that serves alcoholic beverages after closing time.

Danville ordinance designates midnight as closing time on weekdays, Thomason said, and by 12:30 a.m., everyone must be out of the business. Thomason would not disclose how long after closing time the two officers were drinking in the tavern. He said they were off duty and unarmed.

"It's an ordinance violation, not a criminal investigation, so it's a non-terminable offense," he said, meaning they can't be fired over it.

He said any violation of that ordinance is subject to only a fine.

Video from JJ's 610 Tap was being reviewed during an investigation into the murder of the bar's owner, Jay Hein, 51, whose body was discovered the morning of Feb. 14 at his home in the 3600 block of Bayview Drive after Danville firefighters were called there at 9:20 a.m. by a neighbor who saw smoke.

The next day, Christopher D. Condon, 19, was charged with first-degree murder, aggravated arson and concealing a homicidal death in the stabbing of Mr. Hein.

At Condon's arraignment, Vermilion County State's Attorney Jacqueline Lacy said video surveillance from JJ's 610 Tap showed Condon and Mr. Hein leaving the tavern together about 4:30 a.m. Feb. 14.

Thomason would not say whether the two officers were in the bar that late.

"I won't confirm," he said. "They were in there late after hours."

He said he could not answer whether the two officers could possibly be subpoenaed as witnesses in the murder case.

Thomason would not disclose the ages of the officers but said both are over 21 and "fairly new officers," and he confirmed that Buckley was "just short of completing" his probationary period with the department.

He said one officer is currently serving a five-day suspension, and the other will serve his next week. Thomason said a five-day suspension is the maximum he can levy without approval from the city's board of police and fire commissioners.

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