Via Herald Tribune:
SARASOTA - Former police officer Christopher Childers got his job back on Thursday, nearly three years after he was fired for excessive force and violating department policies.
In June 2009, a videocamera in a jail sallyport captured Childers kicking a handcuffed suspect and pinning him to the ground with a foot.
The city's Civil Service Board, which has the final word in employee discipline cases, unanimously voted to dismiss the excessive force violation and three other violations that led to Childers' firing in Nov. 2009. The move means that Childers will receive almost three years of back pay.
The board also voted unanimously to give Childers a written reprimand for two policy violations, both rising from his failure to fill out a use-of-force report detailing his actions.
On June 26, 2009, Childers arrested Juan G. Perez, a Guatemalan immigrant arrested for being drunk and disorderly downtown. Once in the jail sallyport, bleeding from the mouth and sputtering mucus because he had been pepper sprayed during his arrest, Perez shimmied out an open window of Childer's patrol car and fell on his head.
The jail video shows Childers walk slowly over to Perez, then kick him to the ground when he tried to stand up.
The video was released to the public and viewed online by tens of thousands of people, a black eye for the police department and for the city. Worse, after Perez was released from jail, the police department's administrators tried to settle any injury claims he might have with a $400 check hand-delivered by a detective.
The ensuing controversy helped usher former Police Chief Peter Abbott out of his job, and led to an array of attempts to increase accountability of the department.
Childers, who was fired after investigators concluded he violated five department policies, had his final disciplinary hearing delayed for two years because members of the city's Civil Service Board violated the state Sunshine Law while discussing the case amongst themselves...
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