Former Columbia Police Officer Set to Stand Trial Thursday
COLUMBIA - Former Columbia police officer Rob Sanders returns to court Thursday morning following multiple delays in the case. Sanders is scheduled to appear for a court trial at 8 a.m. at the Boone County courthouse.
He is facing a third-degree assault charge for allegedly using excessive force when he pushed inmate Kenneth Baker in a holding cell in August 2011. Baker suffered from a fractured vertebra and received a settlement of $250,000 from the city of Columbia. Nearly ten days after the incident, the police department put Sanders on administrative leave and then fired him in September for excessive force and violating police policy.
At that time, Chief Ken Burton told KOMU 8 News, "The personnel action that has been taken demonstrates a zero tolerance for conduct that undermines the Columbia Police Department's credibility, or that may damage the public's trust in our department."
The firing came after an extensive internal investigation exonerated Sanders of all allegations. Despite the outcome of the police department's investigation, the state decided to continue its case against him. In August of 2012, Randolph County Prosecutor Mike Fusselman charged Sanders with third-degree assault. This case has been delayed multiple times.
The trial was delayed earlier this year when special prosecutor Mark Richardson replaced Fusselman. It was further delayed in March when prosecutor Richardson said he needed more time for the case.
Sanders served as a police officer for 18 years.