Panel backs police supervisor’s demotion, suspension
Published 12:00 am Wednesday, September 17, 2003
[9/17/03]The demotion and suspension of a Vicksburg police supervisor for inaction after a juvenile was reportedly head-slammed onto a car have been upheld by the city’s Civil Service Commission, an order from the three-member panel says.
Sgt. Larry Holloway had appealed to the commission, arguing his demotion from lieutenant and 30-day suspension was too harsh. It was recommended by Police Chief Tommy Moffett and approved by city officials July 7.
The commission voted on the two parts of the disciplinary action separately, upholding the demotion unanimously and the suspension 2-1. Commissioner Clyde Harris cast the dissenting vote on the suspension.
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Harris added his signature to those of commissioners Joe Graham and Linda Sweezer, and the order was made public Tuesday.
Holloway’s demotion was triggered by departmental investigation into action taken during a November 2002 arrest of a juvenile by an officer who was under Holloway’s supervision, City Attorney Walterine Langford argued during his Sept. 10 appeal hearing.
Also during the hearing, commissioners viewed a video recording that showed the lower-ranked officer, Patrolman Taffi Mills, during part of the arrest of the juvenile, who was accused of shoplifting at Fred’s Super Dollar Store, 3427 Halls Ferry Road.
Moffett testified that Holloway could be seen on the recording watching Mills as she took inappropriate physical action against the juvenile while the suspect was in handcuffs. Another VPD patrolman who was at the scene under Holloway’s supervision, Gevon Smith, termed Mills’ action “slamming” the juvenile’s head against a patrol car.
David Sessums, the Vicksburg attorney who represented Holloway, argued that it was not clear from the video that the juvenile’s head hit the car, and that Mills’ action did not appear inappropriate enough to warrant investigation by Holloway.
She is on military leave, and may face disciplinary action upon her return, sources said.
Two previous episodes, each of which resulted in counseling of or disciplinary action against Holloway, were also considered in the disciplinary recommendation the commission upheld, Moffett said.
In one of those episodes, Holloway failed to do basic investigation into a June 2002 theft report at a hotel, Moffett said. In the other, he Holloway failed to ensure follow-up action into a report of a possible sexual assault at Vicksburg High School. The report turned out to be inaccurate, with the assault being determined to be a simple assault instead.
The Civil Service Commission can, if requested, review job actions involving city fire and police officers and affirm, reject or modify decisions. Rulings may be appealed to circuit court.