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Civil lawsuit filed against former Columbia police officer

Thursday, November 3, 2011 | 7:23 p.m. CDT; updated 10:32 a.m. CST, Friday, November 25, 2011
This is an excerpt from an Aug. 15 security tape from a Columbia Police Department holding cell. The officer shown pushing the man in the cell was fired Wednesday by Police Chief Ken Burton.

COLUMBIA — A man who was shoved into a wall during an Aug. 15 Columbia Police Department holding cell incident has sued former Columbia Police Officer Rob Sanders, the man's attorney said in an email Thursday afternoon.

Sanders was fired from the department on Sept. 22 for his use of excessive force against Kenneth Baker, who had been arrested the morning of the incident.

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Ron Netemeyer, Baker's attorney, filed the complaint with the U.S. District Court in the Western District of Missouri. The lawsuit also lists, as defendants, the City of Columbia and officers Brandon Crites and Matthew Hibler, both on duty the morning of the incident.

The complaint alleges excessive use of force against Baker, assault and battery by Sanders and the failure of all three officers to provide Baker with timely medical attention.

The lawsuit also calls into question the department's training practices. It cites holding cell procedures and department policies on using force, detaining citizens and providing medical care for detainees.

The incident was caught on security tapes from the holding cell. Netemeyer filed a preservation request for the tapes from the cell, which prompted the investigation, Police Chief Ken Burton said during a Sept. 21 news conference.

When internal affairs Capt. Dianne Bernhard fulfilled that request, she reviewed video surveillance of the cell and was concerned about what she'd seen. She then brought the video to Burton’s attention, which Burton said automatically prompted an investigation into the use of excessive force. He said the department tried unsuccessfully to contact Baker.

Burton said the department investigated allegations that those officers failed to seek adequate medical care for Baker as well as violated city policies related to the treatment of prisoners. 

Sanders was first placed on administrative leave with pay on Aug. 24, nine days after the assault on Baker. Baker was pepper-sprayed after getting into a “pretty significant fight” with officers while resisting arrest on two outstanding felony warrants, Burton said.

Netemeyer said Baker, who was hospitalized for three or four days after the incident, fractured a vertebra and sustained permanent injury to his back. Netemeyer also said Baker faces “extensive” medical bills.

Sanders was not immediately available for comment.


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Comments

Shawna Sheeba November 3, 2011 | 9:09 p.m.

I dont know why there are so many other officers and members of the union that support him in his decision to try to get his job back. He was an 18 year veteran of the force. HE SHOULD HAVE KNOWN BETTER! There is no excuse for him to shove a NON VIOLENT man BLINDED by pepper spray into a wall. I dont care if Baker called his mom a T W A D (T), there is NO EXCUSE for a man of his experience to harm a man in such a manner.
In another article, it states that Baker was resisting arrest, and that he had been arrested dozens of times.
Is that an excuse to severely harm someone?
No. Get over it, Rob. Chief Burton had a right to fire you. Your loss will teach a lot of police officers that treating people like that is intolerable. Move on. The public hates you, and unfortunately for you, you could have done thousands of good things for the community, but as a community servant, ONE bad decision can ruin your reputation, your career, and your life.
Life lesson.

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