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Citizens Police Review Board votes against sanctions in racism allegations

Wednesday, March 14, 2012 | 11:59 p.m. CDT; updated 9:40 a.m. CDT, Thursday, March 15, 2012

COLUMBIA — The Citizens Police Review Board voted unanimously Wednesday night to accept Chief Ken Burton’s decision not to bring sanctions against Sgt. Roger Schlude.

Columbia resident Demetrice Tatum, 26, had brought allegations of racism against Schlude.

What happened:

On Jan. 3, 2011, Jevon Smith called police and reported that he had been robbed at gunpoint in the parking lot of Mediacom Communications’ parking lot on College Avenue. When Officer Brad Anderson arrived on scene and questioned Smith, he initially identified Tatum’s group near a car at the College Avenue Car Wash as the people who had robbed him and that one member had a gun.

Attorney Dan Viets presented evidence from a security camera and the police cruiser's dashboard cameras to show that Tatum and his cousins were not the perpetrators of the alleged armed robbery that Smith reported. 

At its meeting on Feb. 8, the board invited Schlude, Anderson and Tatum’s cousins, Tyrell Roberson and Rashad Washington, who were with him at the time of his arrest, to appear at Wednesday night’s meeting to testify about the officers’ actions. The board also invited Smith, but he declined to appear.

Anderson told the board Wednesday that Smith had said he was 100 percent sure Tatum was the same man who robbed him. Anderson had reported to the dispatcher that the suspects were identified and supposedly armed with at least one gun.

However, none of the three men arrested possessed a gun, and after reviewing footage of the event, all three were cleared of any charges.

In Tatum’s appeal to the board, he said that Schlude and the officers “for no other reason than the fact that they were black” singled out him and his cousins as suspects, according the complaint.

The board decided to vote on the matter of alleged racism by Schlude, despite concerns raised by Viets and board member Mitch Richards about the legitimacy of Smith’s accusations and proper course of police action. The board decided that the officers acted appropriately with the information they were given, and Schlude's actions weren't motivated by race.

The board also invited Officer Dan Wright, the lead officer at the scene of Tatum’s arrest. According to Anderson, Wright made the decision not to arrest and charge Smith for making a false report. Assistant City Counselor Rose Wibbenmeyer suggested receiving Wright’s testimony in writing.  The board agreed to Wibbenmeyer's suggestion and will hear Wright's memo at its next meeting on April 11.

Also discussed at the meeting:

  • Board member Betty Wilson commended Officers Sean Dutton and James Creel during the Positive Connections segment of the board’s meeting for their determent of a Columbia man’s attempted suicide in late January.
  • Police spokeswoman Jill Schlude reported to the board that Burton, the police chief, expects to have the entire General Orders Manual, containing all Columbia Police Department policies, available on the city’s website by April 15 in compliance with a city ordinance.

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Comments

Harold Sutton March 15, 2012 | 8:11 a.m.

Sounds as if someone was hopeing for some financial compensation.
Smith should have been required to appear.

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