Rob Sanders Discusses His Case and Plans to Get Back His Job

3 years 5 months 1 week ago November 14, 2013 Nov 14, 2013 Thursday, November 14 2013 Thursday, November 14, 2013 8:42:00 PM CST in News
By: Emily Spain, KOMU 8 Anchor
loading

COLUMBIA - Former Columbia police officer Rob Sanders will, once again, try to get his badge back Friday morning. This time, in front of the city's Personnel Advisory Board at 8 a.m. inside the council chambers.

Police Chief Ken Burton fired Sanders more than two years ago in September 2011 after he forcefully pushed inmate Kenneth Baker in a holding cell. Nearly a year later in August 2012, prosecutors charged him with third degree assault. A Boone County judge then acquitted Sanders of that charge in October 2013.

For the first time since it all started, Sanders and his wife Amy sat down to discuss the case and what's next for Sanders.

"Trying to keep my head above water, basically," he said.

Sanders got back his police dog Fano in February of this year, but he's still without his uniform.

"It was six or eight months or even a full year of bewilderment. I didn't do much at all," he said. "I'm sure my wife will tell you, there were days she would leave for work and come home and find me still in bed."

Sanders has worked side-jobs he could find like dog trainer, freelance security officer and, this one might surprise you, cheerleading coach. Sanders was a cheerleader when he attended school in Cape Girardeau.

"It has certainly given me an inspiration I guess," he said. "I've had a blast and it's a competitive team, so it keeps me busy."

It has been two years since the incident in the holding cell and Sanders said he still finds himself on the defense.

"You react to a certain situation as you have been trained, at that point, for 18 years," he said. "You take action according to the policies and procedures and the way that you're trained."

His wife, Amy, has been right beside him since the shove occurred.

"This wasn't a matter of he ticked him off and so he pushed him," Amy said. "It wasn't a matter of he was mad, he was doing what he needed to do."

Amy admits, after first seeing the video, she was worried.

"I thought, ‘Yeah, people are going to be outraged,' and that's what I think I said to him, ‘People are going to be outraged by that,'" she said.

"Makes me look way bigger than he was, which isn't really the case. It was just not an accurate depiction, but you're going to get that when you only get 11 seconds," Sanders said about the video.

He said he followed his training that night.

"We are supposed to use the minimal force that we need to take somebody into custody or do whatever the goal is and in this particular case, I did exactly what I was trained to do," Sanders said.

The police department's internal affairs investigation agreed and a year later so did a Boone County judge when she found him not guilty of assault. Chief Ken Burton gave this reason for firing him in 2011:

"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."

Burton refused to discuss Sanders' case with KOMU 8 News, but would talk about the use of force and how he still has a similar opinion on the tactic.

"We need to make sure we earn the public trust by only using the force necessary to affect our lawful objective," Burton said. "Encourage officers to use any force necessary that they need to do to go home at the end of their shift, but it can't be more than is necessary."

Sanders said he disagrees with the chief's emphasis on public perception.

"At the point when we let civilians have an opinion on something they know nothing about and judge us...that's a real problem," he said.

"I'm not saying we're not going to use force, that officer has to determine in the field. The worst case scenario is the use of a firearm, and our officers, if they have to, will," Burton said.

So, if Sanders doesn't agree with the chief, why does he want his job back with the department?

"I'm in a situation where I can step back in with the dog, that I basically hand chose, to do exactly what I want and it's the quickest line for me to get back there...I'm getting close to the end of my window in law enforcement," Sanders said.

He said it would take five to eight years to become a canine handler again if he moved to a new department.

With Sanders now 43 years old, Amy said she just wants to see him back on the streets, doing the job he loves.

"Most police officers that truly are in it from the get-go, it's their life, that's all they know, that's all they want to do. It's their identity. So to take that and to take it in such a public manner for no reason, that devastated him," she said. "I've had to work a lot on my faith that good's going to happen eventually."

"I just kept thinking that somebody would look at this and fix it," Sanders said. "And here we are two years and a couple months later and it hasn't."

Now, the Personnel Advisory Board will decide if two years of waiting is enough, or if Sanders' wait goes on.

"I believe I will get my job back," Sanders said.

The board's hearing is open to the public because Sanders said he requested an open hearing.

Check out a timeline of the events surrounding Sanders' case below.

More News

Grid
List
COLUMBIA - The Columbia Police Department beat commanders hosted their first beat meeting with the northeast Columbia community for the... More >>
1 hour ago April 27, 2017 Apr 27, 2017 Thursday, April 27 2017 Thursday, April 27, 2017 10:24:00 PM CDT in News
JEFFERSON CITY (AP) — Missouri House members want more information on how much money the state is paying in lawsuit... More >>
3 hours ago April 27, 2017 Apr 27, 2017 Thursday, April 27 2017 Thursday, April 27, 2017 7:48:03 PM CDT in News
JEFFERSON CITY (AP) — The Missouri Senate has passed a bond measure for a new music and dance conservatory at... More >>
3 hours ago April 27, 2017 Apr 27, 2017 Thursday, April 27 2017 Thursday, April 27, 2017 7:43:00 PM CDT in News
JEFFERSON CITY - A Columbia woman pleaded guilty Thursday in federal court to embezzling $231,600 from her employer, Shelter Insurance... More >>
5 hours ago April 27, 2017 Apr 27, 2017 Thursday, April 27 2017 Thursday, April 27, 2017 6:12:00 PM CDT in News
CAMDEN, N.J. (AP) — A Honduran man who entered the United States illegally three times has pleaded guilty to kidnapping... More >>
6 hours ago April 27, 2017 Apr 27, 2017 Thursday, April 27 2017 Thursday, April 27, 2017 5:25:40 PM CDT in News
JEFFERSON CITY (AP) — Som e Missouri lawmakers want to shield lodging websites such as Airbnb from local ordinances that... More >>
6 hours ago April 27, 2017 Apr 27, 2017 Thursday, April 27 2017 Thursday, April 27, 2017 5:16:31 PM CDT in News
COLUMBIA (AP) — The four-campus Unive rsity of Missouri s ystem is proposing raising tuition and required fees of in-state... More >>
6 hours ago April 27, 2017 Apr 27, 2017 Thursday, April 27 2017 Thursday, April 27, 2017 5:04:00 PM CDT in News
COLUMBIA - The University of Missouri released new and revised policies relating to protests and free speech on campus, including... More >>
7 hours ago April 27, 2017 Apr 27, 2017 Thursday, April 27 2017 Thursday, April 27, 2017 4:10:00 PM CDT in News
SPRINGFIELD (AP) — A woman is accused in southw estern Missouri of drunkenly causing a fatal car crash in December.... More >>
7 hours ago April 27, 2017 Apr 27, 2017 Thursday, April 27 2017 Thursday, April 27, 2017 4:09:00 PM CDT in News
COLUMBIA - A police chase in Callaway County ended in a crash and a foot pursuit Thursday. It started... More >>
7 hours ago April 27, 2017 Apr 27, 2017 Thursday, April 27 2017 Thursday, April 27, 2017 3:43:00 PM CDT in News
COLUMBIA - Boone County's iconic "Big Tree" is being damaged by vandals spray painting its base, according to its owner,... More >>
7 hours ago April 27, 2017 Apr 27, 2017 Thursday, April 27 2017 Thursday, April 27, 2017 3:37:50 PM CDT in 8 Goes Green
COLUMBIA - Three suspects were in custody Thursday afternoon on suspicion of stealing, following a joint investigation by the Boone... More >>
8 hours ago April 27, 2017 Apr 27, 2017 Thursday, April 27 2017 Thursday, April 27, 2017 3:15:00 PM CDT in News
COLUMBIA - The Missouri State High School Activities Association (MSHSAA) kicked off its state music festival Thursday, drawing thousands of... More >>
9 hours ago April 27, 2017 Apr 27, 2017 Thursday, April 27 2017 Thursday, April 27, 2017 2:21:00 PM CDT in News
OZARK (AP) — The last of three people accused in the 2014 shooting death of a sout hwest Missouri man... More >>
9 hours ago April 27, 2017 Apr 27, 2017 Thursday, April 27 2017 Thursday, April 27, 2017 1:51:00 PM CDT in News
JACKSONVILLE, Mo. - Missouri State Highway Patrol troopers responded to a car driving the wrong way in the northbound lanes... More >>
9 hours ago April 27, 2017 Apr 27, 2017 Thursday, April 27 2017 Thursday, April 27, 2017 1:47:00 PM CDT in News
JEFFERSON CITY — The Missouri State Senate sent a $27.8 billion operating budget back to the House Thursday after multiple... More >>
10 hours ago April 27, 2017 Apr 27, 2017 Thursday, April 27 2017 Thursday, April 27, 2017 1:05:00 PM CDT in News
JEFFERSON CITY (AP) — The Missouri Senate has passed a school choice bill that would create education savings accounts for... More >>
10 hours ago April 27, 2017 Apr 27, 2017 Thursday, April 27 2017 Thursday, April 27, 2017 12:34:00 PM CDT in News
JEFFERSON CITY (AP) — Missouri loca l governments no longer would be able to mandate union working conditions for construction... More >>
10 hours ago April 27, 2017 Apr 27, 2017 Thursday, April 27 2017 Thursday, April 27, 2017 12:32:00 PM CDT in News
Columbia, MO
Broken Clouds 55°
12am 54°
1am 54°
2am 53°
3am 52°

Select a station to view its upcoming schedule:

Coming Up Next

10:35p
The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon
11:37p
Late Night with Seth Meyers
12:37a
Last Call with Carson Daly
11:00p
Rules of Engagement
11:30p
Rules of Engagement
12:00a
Raising Hope

Tonight's Schedule

7:00p
Superstore
7:30p
Superstore
8:00p
Chicago Med
9:00p
The Blacklist
7:00p
Supernatural
8:00p
Riverdale
9:00p
KOMU 8 News @ Nine on The CW
9:30p
Seinfeld