Two Ohio police officers were fired Thursday for showing "gross neglect of duty and incompetence" in a wrongful arrest of porn star and stripper Stormy Daniels 18 months ago, officials said.
Columbus police officers Whitney Lancaster and Steven Rosser were terminated and two other officers were suspended by Department of Public Safety Director Ned Pettus, stemming from their arrest of Daniels on July 11, 2018.
Daniels, who became a national figure with her claim that she had an extramarital affair with President Donald Trump prior to his election, was taken into custody and on booked on a rarely-enforced misdemeanor charge that she made physical contact with undercover officers while performing at Sirens, a Columbus strip club.
Lancaster lied about going to Sirens to investigate whether there was an underage dancer there, according to Pettus.
Furthermore, even if Daniels was guilty of wrongdoing at the strip club, such offenses are handled with a summons and not an arrest, the director ruled in firing Lancaster and Rosser.
"The actions taken at Sirens regarding Stephanie Clifford (aka Stormy Daniels) deviated significantly from actions taken at every other strip club investigate by you," Pettus wrote in termination notices for the two officers.
By arresting Daniels, Pettus said the now-former officers were "demonstrating gross negligence of duty and incompetence."
The officers' collective bargaining agreement allows them to appeal to an arbitrator, and both Lancaster and Rosser intend to challenge Pettus' ruling, their union representative told NBC News on Friday.
"I’m sure they're disappointed, but they're hopeful they'll win the appeal," said Jeff Simpson, executive vice president of the Fraternal Order of Police, Capital City Lodge No. 9.
The union chief said, "The discipline issued was unwarranted." The appeal and hearing before an arbitrator could take up to a year, he said.
The charges against Daniels were dropped within hours of her 2018 arrest, and she filed a lawsuit against Columbus police.
Daniels claimed she was targeted by Columbus police over her accusations that Trump and his representatives wanted to silence her about the alleged affair.
The city in September settled the lawsuit by Daniels for $450,000.