From the Worldwide Faith News archives www.wfn.org
Suspension Papers Served on Louisville Officer for Beating
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
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 PCUSA.NEWS@pcusa.org Web page: http://www.pcusa.org
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