Community members discuss removal of Hickman officer

Monday, November 3, 2008 | 7:42 p.m. CST; updated 11:15 a.m. CST, Monday, November 17, 2008

COLUMBIA — Just before the City Council meeting on Monday, parents, students and church members gathered at St. Luke's Methodist Church to discuss the next step in working to remove Hickman Resource Officer Mark Brotemarkle from Hickman and from the Columbia Police Department. Brotemarkle is still under investigation for his conduct during an Oct. 15 fight at the high school.

After collecting signatures for the petitions to remove Brotemarkle from his positions, attendees looked to create a plan for the next step of the process.

"This is for the parents to be able to voice their concerns. Some of them feel frustrated because they don't know who to contact or what to do," Demetria Stephens, who organized the petition and the event, said. "I want these families to be heard."

Stephens said that she did not contact the police department, City Council members or Columbia Public School board members or administrators about the event because she wanted to first gain support from parents and those who signed the petition.

"I want us to stand together, to do this in numbers to make a difference," Stephens said.

Four people spoke about their personal experiences with Brotemarkle. Stephens encouraged people in attendance to file grievances with the police department. They also made plans to protest this week outside Hickman High School.

During Monday's City Council meeting, council members also heard public comment on the subject. According to an e-mail sent by Ray Magruder on Oct. 20, he, Diamond Thrower and Lakisha Houston made the request for comment so the Council could "hear from the family, one of the teenagers that has sustained injuries as a result of the excessive force used, and the mentor" of that teenager.

Thrower, a Hickman student, was advised by her lawyer not to attend the meeting.

Magruder spoke before the Council on Thrower's behalf, mentioning her involvement with the A+ Program and her goal of attending medical school, both of which could be deterred as a result of injuries she received during the fight.

Magruder said Thrower has been to school once since the incident because of pain  from injuries she got when she was thrown to the ground and handcuffed by Brotemarkle, the school resource officer. Magruder also talked about the timeline of events and the discrepancy between Brotemarkle's investigation, which Magruder was told was going to taken between four and five weeks, and his return to Hickman on Oct. 20, only five days after the fight. 

According to Columbia Police Department policy, officers are to remain in their positions unless there is a serious incident, such as an officer shooting, Capt. Zim Schwartze told the Missourian on Oct. 22.

Magruder said the Columbia Police Department has been less than honest with the whole investigation and appropriate actions haven't been taken.

The City Council does not discuss public comment during the meeting in which it is made.

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Charles Dudley Jr November 4, 2008 | 3:47 a.m.

Oh ya that is the right answer let's remove the officer because you the parents fail to properly raise your children to act as responsible citizens instead of gang banging little fighting street thugs in school.

Good answer parents of Columbia just a great solution instead of looking at yourselves as the root of the problems in all of this and denying your own accountability.

The Columbia Police and the City Council should stand as one with every good and decent parent as a whole in keeping that officer in his job and pointing to the root of this issue where it truly is and that is with the parents of these trouble making children.

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