In a Dec. 23 police report, the Sandusky Police Department said they arrested a cocaine dealer at Diedre Cole's house, and Cole, a former city commission candidate, witnessed the arrest.
But department officials admitted this week neither of those statements is true.
Acting police Chief Charlie Sams said the erroneous information resulted from "sloppy police work" by Det. Eric Costante, the arresting officer.
Sams said Costante didn't talk to any of the witnesses -- a violation of the department's policy -- and assumed one of them was Cole.
"He thought he knew Diedre Cole," Sams said. "When he saw the lady in that room, he thought it was her and he put it in the report."
Sams also said a clerical error led to the police report incorrectly identifying the house as Cole's.
Cole, who met with Sams and interim city manager Don Icsman earlier this week to discuss the situation, said the report shocked and angered her.
"I informed Charlie Sams we don't pay our officers to assume," Cole said.
She also said the officer's explanation didn't sit well with her. She said all black people "must look alike."
"I ran for city commissioner for Christ's sake," Cole said, adding she and Costante have met before. "It's ridiculous. My picture was in the paper for sixth months straight. If that's an example of our police department and their efforts, I'm terribly sorry, but we have some corrections that need to be made and made immediately."
According to the report, at 5 p.m. Dec. 23, three police officers spotted Sylvester Ford, a known criminal with outstanding warrants, leaving 907 Hancock St.
When the police identified themselves, Ford ran back into the home. The police entered with guns drawn to find Ford standing in the laundry room with Cole and an "unknown female," the report says.
Sams said Costante never interviewed the witnesses, which is why he failed to identify one woman and incorrectly identified the other as Cole.
Cole found out about the police report Christmas night, when a Register reporter found it and contacted her. She said she's "lucky" someone noticed it.
"I live in public housing," Cole said. "If Metro would have gotten hold of that, I would have been evicted. There's a no-strike policy. ... I would have been exonerated, but I would have had to go through public humiliation."
Costante issued a supplemental police report Monday stating Cole wasn't present, but that another black woman, Mary Sanders, witnessed the arrest. It was she he mistook for Cole.
Costante also wrote 907 Hancock St. doesn't exist, and the arrest actually took place at 905 Hancock St.
"It was difficult to identify the numbers of the residence due to there being none displayed," Costante wrote.
Cole lives at 807 Hancock St., four houses from where the arrest occurred. Sams said someone in data entry at the police department must have seen 907 Hancock St. in the police report, and Cole's listed address of 807 Hancock St. in their computer, and assumed one of the addresses was wrong.
So the data-entry person changed Cole's address to 907 Hancock St., which is why the report identifies the home as Cole's.
"We're trying to figure out who switched that," Sams said. "That takes a little more work to figure out how that happened."
Costante received an oral reprimand for the incident and will undergo refresher training for "basic investigative procedures," Sams said. He will also be reassigned for two weeks to season(ed) detectives to learn from their tutelage.
An oral reprimand is a Step 2 disciplinary action, according to the Sandusky Police Department's labor contract.
Sams said the department can skip disciplinary steps if it's deemed necessary, "but we thought an oral reprimand was a good place to start."
Costante received counseling this fall from his supervisor, a Step 1 disciplinary action, for "cutting procedural corners" during an arrest, Sams said. His personnel file did not reflect that discipline. Sams couldn't immediately recall which corners Costante cut.
Costante joined the police department in March 2007. In September he became the department's G.R.E.A.T officer, which stands for Gang Resistance Education Awareness Training. The G.R.E.A.T officer speaks to school students about the perils of gangs.
As the G.R.E.A.T officer, Costante received a promotion to detective, so he could share his gang expertise with the narcotics unit.
Cole, the top vote-getter not elected in the November city commission race, could become a commissioner as early as March if fired police Chief Kim Nuesse is reinstated.
During the campaign season, Cole criticized the department for the way the city and department treated Nuesse.
Sams said Costante's mistake wasn't an attempt to discredit Cole and wasn't intentional in any way.
"I don't believe at all this was intentional," Sams said. "I think it was sloppy police work and a mistake we don't accept, and we want him to be better than that, and we believe he wants to be better than that."