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Tuesday, January 4, 2011

LR police appeal rehiring of officer Edgmon case going to circuit court

As reported by Arkansas Democrat-Gazette:

LR police appeal rehiring of officer Edgmon case going to circuit court 

By John Lynch  

LITTLE ROCK — The Little Rock Police Department on Monday followed through with a promise to appeal the reinstatement of a white police officer who had been fired for using a racial slur during an alcohol tinged encounter in the River Market with a group of men, black and white, that was video-recorded and shown on the Internet. The department’s challenge to the Nov. 18 decision by the Little Rock [Civil] Service Commission to return David Edgmon to duty will be heard by Pulaski County Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen. 

The panel voted 3-2 to overturn Edgmon’s August firing by Police Chief Stuart Thomas and instead impose a 30-day unpaid suspension. No hearing dates have been scheduled as officials await the completion of a transcript of the commission’s hearing. Edgmon of Conway, who has previously been suspended for a day after allowing a prisoner to escape, joined the department in January 2009. According to commission records, Edgmon admitted he’d just left Ernie Biggs bar on President Clinton Avenue when he encountered the men. He admitted that he’d flashed his badge to the group and told them, “Get out of my f****** face. Get this illegal product f****** jigaboo s*** out of my f****** face.”

 But Edgmon called his termination “unjust and unfair.” He contended before the commission that he’d been provoked by members of the group blowing marijuana smoke in his face and making “inappropriate comments.” He maintained that he didn’t know that “jigaboo” had a racist meaning, but only that the word was derogatory “somewhat like a lot of other terms [that] are not nice to call people.” 

The police chief fired Edgmon for violating three department rules that bar officers from engaging in “any conduct” unbecoming an officer, any personal act that “If brought to the attention of the public, could result in justified criticism of that officer or the department” and appearing intoxicated in public.

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