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Cop Says He Was Fired For Reporting Police Dog Attack

•  Ethics     updated  2008/09/03 09:19


The City of Hernando, Miss., illegally fired a police officer for testifying truthfully about another officer's use of unreasonable force - letting a police dog attack and bite a citizen who already was in custody - Steven English claims in Federal Court.

English says he saw a fellow officer unreasonably sic a dog on Lawson Rhoda in November 2004, after Rhoda was in custody. English says he reported the attack to his supervisor, "who instructed Plaintiff to keep his opinions to himself."

"Because supervisor Gray had instructed plaintiff to keep his opinion to himself, and because plaintiff knew that he would be fired if he disobeyed his supervisor's instruction by reporting the use of unreasonable force, plaintiff did not initially report the use of unreasonable force. Instead, plaintiff filed a police report which omitted any discussion of the dog's attack upon the suspect," the complaint states. English says his police report was accurate, but omitted mention of the dog attack. "To report this attack would have been a direct disobedience of the supervisor's instructions. However, in keeping with his duty as a citizen, plaintiff kept a complete record of the incident so that his memory would be fresh if he were asked about the incident in the future, and so that he could give an accurate statement about what occurred."

In 2007, Rhoda sued the city alleging unreasonable force. English says the city's insurance company and police chief, "Riley," questioned him about the incident, and he "truthfully answered their questions and truthfully described the criminal assault he had witnessed."

The city suspended and then fired him in retaliation, English says, on the bogus grounds that "he had not truthfully reported the use of excessive force in his police report."

He demands monetary damages. He is represented by Jim Waide of Tupelo.



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