Watkins sides with minority opinion on Billups case

Wednesday, February 23, 2011 | 10:08 a.m. CST; updated 7:32 p.m. CST, Wednesday, February 23, 2011

COLUMBIA — City Manager Bill Watkins issued a statement on Monday agreeing with the Citizens Police Review Board's minority opinion on the Derek Billups complaint.

Watkins is directing Columbia Police Chief Ken Burton to review and clarify two department policies, according to a city news release. He stated the revisions should balance the community's desire for less physical confrontation against what is necessary to ensure officer safety.

After an incident at Nephew's Night Life in December 2009, Billups complained to the Columbia Police Department that Officer Nathan Turner used excessive force by throwing him on the ground, according to a previous Missourian article. After an internal affairs investigation exonerated Turner, Billups appealed to the Citizens Police Review Board.

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Melissa Gill February 23, 2011 | 11:03 a.m.

I for one think that the citizen review board is just a way to undermind the ones who are responsible for our safety. And if I were Officer Turner, the only cop amongst an angry crowd of cop hater's and drug dealers, I would have acted the same. Those men put their lives on the line for us daily. And for an embarassingly low amount of money. Heck I have no college education and a GED, and a criminal record, and I still make more than they do. Something is seriously wrong with that folks!

(Report Comment)
John Schultz February 23, 2011 | 11:49 a.m.

Melissa, where is your evidence that the officer was "amongst an angry crowd of cop hater's and drug dealers"?

(Report Comment)
Ricky Gurley February 23, 2011 | 12:12 p.m.

She has no evidence of this, John. In fact, the evidence is to the contrary.... Officer Turner must not have felt threatened or in a situation that was dangerous to his personal safety, since he proceeded with confronting Mr. Billups without waiting for back up to arrive.

Melissa is just another "Cop Groupie”, that refuses to see that Police Officers can make mistakes too. It is what I call "Intentional Ignorance"....

Ricky Gurley.

(Report Comment)
Lloyd Thomas February 23, 2011 | 12:14 p.m.

If you review the information available, especially the clearly spoken testimony given at the CRB, it is clear that Turner did not announce himself before handling and aggressively taking Billups to the ground. Perhaps it is worth stating a second time for those who seem to miss it. The officer put hands on Billups and assaulted him from behind without ever indicating he was a police officer. The words, "you're under arrest" were never spoken. The words; "keep your hands where I can see them" were never spoken. One second you are standing there, the next you are on the ground. You don't see your attacker, you feel them grab you, how is one to know its a police officer? Is this business as usual, another example of improper use of force? It seems many would condone this tackle first ask questions later? Billups deserves kudos for keeping his head while those about him lost theirs. People, (that's what LEOs are), make mistakes.

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Paul Allaire February 23, 2011 | 12:46 p.m.

"Heck I have no college education and a GED, and a criminal record,"

That doesn't surprise me.

"Something is seriously wrong with that folks!"

I won't argue with your statement.

(Report Comment)
Melissa Turner February 23, 2011 | 1:44 p.m.

LOL. I dont know that I would share the fact that you have no education and a criminal record. Hahaha

(Report Comment)
Ken Geringer February 23, 2011 | 4:14 p.m.

Mellisa is right about the bucks. Shouldn't be thrown down without warning unless a damn good reason. If you followed procedure doesn't mean the community, us, think you did 'right." Only that you were doing the job as you believed was correct. If so, you did the job.

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Ricky Gurley February 23, 2011 | 4:34 p.m.

Well yeah, Ken.. You are right....

Officer Turner followed procedure according to Chief Burton. Chief Burton is responsible for procedure at the CPD.

So, I guess you have a good point. Chief Burton is to blame.. He should make the apology that was requested of him..

For example, if I make a procedure in my company that says that all witness interviews must be conducted by first slapping the person being interviewed in the face hard enough where it can be heard on tape; I suppose if one of my Investigators does that they are not responsible at all right?

But even if they are responsible for doing this, so am I because I put them in an untenable position by advocating that if they did not follow policy they could be fired. So, they are faced with what? Break the law by assaulting a witness or lose their job?

Let's say you are completely correct. So what? The blame still falls to the CPD.

Ricky Gurley.

(Report Comment)
Eric Cox February 23, 2011 | 6:29 p.m.

The man (Watkins) just lost his wife, so at this time I'll just say, I really think he made the wrong decision.

Now for Burton I make no qualms, if he is going to support this type of action I want him fired. He is not improving the image or actions of the CPD. If what Officer Nathan Turner did wasn't assault than I don't know what is. Burton doesn't seem to mind criminals in uniform, if we're not going to accept it from our basketball coach then we should have no tolerance for it from our police chief.

(Report Comment)
robert link February 24, 2011 | 5:20 a.m.

The only discipline Turner faced was a reprimand for failing to operate his on-person audio recorder.
CRB, Watkins and Burton were not there so it becomes a "he said vs he said" and it does no good to have Watkins come out with this statement afterwards.

(Report Comment)
Ricky Gurley February 24, 2011 | 7:23 a.m.

I don't understand why Mr. Billups just don't file a 1983 Civil Rights Lawsuit, and sue the City of Columbia? Just get it over with, instead of messing about with an impotent CRB, a City Manager that is caught right in the middle and has to be very careful about what he says, and a Police Chief that just believes that his Officers can do no wrong. Let the courts decide.

But at least it is not as bad now as it was a year ago. Something seems to have changed over the last year. The incident rate seems to have gone down quite a bit with the CPD.

Ricky Gurley.

(Report Comment)

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