COLUMBIA — The Columbia Police Officers Association is outraged at a ruling by the Citizens Police Review Board that an officer used excessive force. The association's statement says that the decision was based on an "evidentiary circus" and that it undermines the board's credibility.
The association issued its statement Thursday after the board's decision Wednesday night on a complaint by Derek Billups.
Billups, who worked at Nephew’s Night Life, complained that Officer Nathan Turner dealt with him in an "improper way" after Turner approached him from behind, threw him up against a van and then to the ground. The club's owner had called police during an argument between him and Billups.
The board has spent two meetings in the last two weeks investigating this incident.
"The board’s decision was rendered after a two-week evidentiary circus, in which the board publicly obsessed over hours of redundant, speculative and wholly-irrelevant 'testimony,'" Eric Dearmont, CPOA executive director, wrote in a news release.
The board concluded that Turner acted inappropriately at its Wednesday night meeting.
The CPOA expressed its discontent not only with the outcome of the investigation but also the way it was conducted.
Review board members who voted in favor of recommending that Turner used excessive force, the CPOA wrote, based their decisions on facts that the officer did not know at the time of the incident. Moreover, they wrote, the decision went against both the Police Department's policy and "Constitutional standards that guide all courts in their determinations."
"Both the lack of thoughtful contemplation present in the Board’s decision and the nonchalant approach to applying well-established Constitutional standards completely undermines the Board’s credibility with officers while still in the infancy of its existence," the statement said.
According to its website, the CPOA is a nonprofit corporation that "exists to give the men and women of the Columbia Police Department a unified voice."