Police upset about officer's firing
Photo: Video by fox4now.com
Fort Myers, Fla. - Fort Myers Police Chief Doug Baker ignored his top administrators' recommendation that Officer Trevor Lehman keep his job. Instead, the chief relied on the recommendation of an outside expert.
But some say the expert didn't have his facts right. They're also saying the suspect, Chaylon McClary, never was injured and never even complained about excessive force.
Two things we’re told are practically required for a cop to get fired. In addition, three of the chief's top assistants wanted the officer to be reprimanded, the other suspended for two days, yet Chief Baker fired him.
"Trevor acted appropriately,” said Matt Sellers, the police union president. “His use of force is not excessive. The only thing excessive here is his termination."
In the video in question, the suspect was stopped for a traffic violation and then struggled while being handcuffed and arrested. Sellers, who in addition to being the union president is also a detective with the Fort Myers Police Department, has also been a cop for 20 years.
He says Lehman, along with the other officers, did what they had to do to control him. "You can watch the video and see that the suspect is physically resisting so clearly he was exerting a lot of energy. It took several officers to take him into custody. There were no cheap shots here."
It happened in February and since then Chief Baker had an expert evaluate whether this is excessive force. "There was a statement in the report from the expert that Trevor had no prior knowledge of McCrary's criminal history when Trevor actually arrested him 8 months prior for Resisting (Arrest)," Sellers added.
The suspect also had been previously arrested for armed robbery and Sellers says that any time an officer pulls over a suspect and knows they have that kind of history they have to take precautions for their own safety.
Mr. Sellers says he's baffled as to why the expert didn't know the suspects history. He was asked, “Why wasn't that in the experts report do you suppose? I'm not sure, it was in Trevor's statement. All those documents were given to the expert and in my belief it weighed heavily on the decision's made by the chief."
Mr. Sellers says another reason why the officer should never have been fired is simple, "McClary did not file a complaint in this case, and was not injured.” When asked if he’s ever seen in 20 years of police work, an officer get fired when a suspect didn't complain about excessive force or being hurt, he said, “Yea, this is something new, completely new. I've never seen anything like this before."
Lehman had been on the force for four years with a spotless record. FOX4 asked for a comment from Chief Baker and was told he was unavailable.
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