From the Worldwide Faith News archives

Suspension Papers Served on Louisville Officer for Beating

Date 04 May 1996 19:49:44


95438   Suspension Papers Served on Louisville Officer for Beating 
                Artist Who Carved Center's Chapel Doors 
                          by Alexa Smith 
LOUISVILLE, Ky.--Suspension papers were served Tuesday night to a 
Louisville police officer for beating and then abandoning the New Mexico 
artist who carved the doors for the Presbyterian Center chapel. 
     The beating occurred early July 14 in downtown Louisville, while 
Hispanic artist Federico Armijo of Cubero, N.M., was in the city to oversee 
installation of the chapel doors.  After officers left the scene, a 
passerby called for an ambulance, which took Armijo to a nearby hospital 
where he was treated and released. 
     Suspension papers were served to five-year officer Gary Alcorn Nov. 
28, following a Louisville Police department internal investigation of a 
complaint Armijo filed after the incident.  Alcorn's suspension is for 15 
days without pay. 
     Suspensions go into effect, according to Aaron Graham, public 
information officer for the Louisville police, when commanding officers in 
affected units determine how to cover a disciplined officer's absence. 
Days may be served consecutively or split up over time.  Any officer has 
the right to appeal a disciplinary action to the city's civil service 
     "The report is clear on excessive use of force ... There was failure 
to get medical treatment [for Armijo]," said General Assembly Council 
Executive Director the Rev. James D. Brown. He said the investigation 
documents nine baton marks on Armijo's legs.  "We want to see that justice 
is done." 
     Brown said Armijo suffered both emotional and physical injuries, 
including damage to one wrist which currently impairs his ability to work. 
      Graham said investigators recommended Alcorn be suspended for 15 days 
without pay on three counts: use of excessive force, conduct unbecoming an 
officer and neglect of duty by failing to take the complainant into custody 
or to seek medical care for him. 
     That recommendation was approved by the chief of police. 
     Graham said officers at the scene allege Armijo was intoxicated and 
began kicking when officers awakened him in the street. However, Graham 
said, the force was "above and beyond what ... should have been used." 
     One of Armijo's Louisville attornies, Larry Simon said Armijo denies 
the officers' version of the confrontation but acknowledges that he was 
     Simon said a civil suit is a "distinct possibility" if other redress 
fails.  "[Armijo] was never charged with a criminal offense, never placed 
under arrest, was not even cited," said Simon. "And, in return, he gets 
beat on. I just think that's unjustifiable." 
     When asked, Simon also said racial remarks were made by the officer 
during the confrontation. 
     Graham said investigators could not prove or disprove that the beating 
was racially motivated. The inquiry did find that the officer "acted 
incorrectly, acted with excessive force," he added. 
     Graham told the Presbyterian News Service a 15-day suspension is 
considered "very severe" within the department. Officers may accrue 30 days 
per year before automatically being reviewed for dismissal. He said Alcorn 
has no prior misconduct accusations. 
     Probation officer Rebecca Corbett, who was also at the scene, will 
receive five days' suspension for neglect of duty, according to Graham. 
Corbett was not accused of striking Armijo. 
     "This is not just an issue happening in other places and to other 
people.  It's happening in our own community," said Brown about police 
brutality and other acts of violence.  He said he hopes the denomination's 
staff and local Presbyterian congregations can "work positively" to help 
address the problem in Louisville and in other cities. 

For more information contact Presbyterian News Service
  Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Louisville, KY 40202
  phone 502-569-5504            fax 502-569-8073  
  E-mail   Web page: 


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