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

3 years 3 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
Embed Code Copied

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
ST. LOUIS (AP) — A streetcar that will operate in the Loop area of St. Louis and adjoining University City... More >>
1 hour ago February 24, 2017 Feb 24, 2017 Friday, February 24 2017 Friday, February 24, 2017 7:49:51 AM CST in News
COLUMBIA - When someone overdoses on heroin or another opioid, the drug slows down their central nervous system until they... More >>
2 hours ago February 24, 2017 Feb 24, 2017 Friday, February 24 2017 Friday, February 24, 2017 6:02:00 AM CST in Top Stories
COLUMBIA - A Moberly woman was charged Tuesday in Boone County for abusing a 12-year-old Columbia boy. Stacey Robertson,... More >>
10 hours ago February 23, 2017 Feb 23, 2017 Thursday, February 23 2017 Thursday, February 23, 2017 10:23:00 PM CST in News
MONITEAU COUNTY – The Moniteau County Sheriff's Office arrested 10 people during a drug bust Wednesday. The sheriff's office... More >>
12 hours ago February 23, 2017 Feb 23, 2017 Thursday, February 23 2017 Thursday, February 23, 2017 8:19:00 PM CST in News
WENTZVILLE (AP) — Police in the east ern Missouri to wn of Wentzville are investigating after a woman working inside... More >>
13 hours ago February 23, 2017 Feb 23, 2017 Thursday, February 23 2017 Thursday, February 23, 2017 7:23:00 PM CST in News
COLUMBIA – Plato’s Closet opened a newly renovated store Thursday to give mid-Missouri teens and young adults in poverty affordable,... More >>
14 hours ago February 23, 2017 Feb 23, 2017 Thursday, February 23 2017 Thursday, February 23, 2017 6:53:00 PM CST in News
COLUMBIA - Gov. Eric Greitens plans to put $11 million back into school transportation and $41 million back into home... More >>
14 hours ago February 23, 2017 Feb 23, 2017 Thursday, February 23 2017 Thursday, February 23, 2017 6:44:00 PM CST in News
NEW FRANKLIN - President Donald Trump reversed President Barack Obama's directive on transgender students being able to use the bathroom... More >>
14 hours ago February 23, 2017 Feb 23, 2017 Thursday, February 23 2017 Thursday, February 23, 2017 6:36:00 PM CST in News
FULTON - Drive down memory lane to Fulton's Auto World Museum and transport yourself through the decades. Bill Backer,... More >>
16 hours ago February 23, 2017 Feb 23, 2017 Thursday, February 23 2017 Thursday, February 23, 2017 4:07:47 PM CST in News
JEFFERSON CITY (AP) — Missouri House members have passed a bill to reduce the duration of state jobless benefits to... More >>
17 hours ago February 23, 2017 Feb 23, 2017 Thursday, February 23 2017 Thursday, February 23, 2017 3:51:43 PM CST in News
COLUMBIA - The Columbia man accused of plotting a terror attack with people he believed were members of ISIS was... More >>
17 hours ago February 23, 2017 Feb 23, 2017 Thursday, February 23 2017 Thursday, February 23, 2017 3:47:00 PM CST in News
JEFFERSON CITY (AP) — A new ordinance in St. Louis prohibits discrimination based on "reproductive health decisions." It's an effort... More >>
18 hours ago February 23, 2017 Feb 23, 2017 Thursday, February 23 2017 Thursday, February 23, 2017 2:47:00 PM CST in News
JEFFERSON CITY – The investigatory subcommittee created to examine harassment and hostile working conditions in Missouri’s prisons heard from two... More >>
18 hours ago February 23, 2017 Feb 23, 2017 Thursday, February 23 2017 Thursday, February 23, 2017 2:45:00 PM CST in News
COLUMBIA - A Columbia man is fighting the Hershey Company in federal court for allegedly under-filling two of its candy... More >>
18 hours ago February 23, 2017 Feb 23, 2017 Thursday, February 23 2017 Thursday, February 23, 2017 2:03:00 PM CST in Top Stories
JEFFERSON CITY (AP) — Missouri's GOP legislative leaders say it should be up to schools to decide how to handle... More >>
19 hours ago February 23, 2017 Feb 23, 2017 Thursday, February 23 2017 Thursday, February 23, 2017 1:40:00 PM CST in News
JEFFERSON CITY (AP) — Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens is largely reversing his proposed cut to in-home care services for low-income... More >>
20 hours ago February 23, 2017 Feb 23, 2017 Thursday, February 23 2017 Thursday, February 23, 2017 12:57:00 PM CST in News
WENTZVILLE (AP) — Police in the eastern Missouri town of Wentzville are investigating after a woman working inside the General... More >>
21 hours ago February 23, 2017 Feb 23, 2017 Thursday, February 23 2017 Thursday, February 23, 2017 11:11:00 AM CST in News
COLUMBIA - In a partnership with Kickstarter, the True/False Film Festival has introduced a childcare initiative to provide support for... More >>
22 hours ago February 23, 2017 Feb 23, 2017 Thursday, February 23 2017 Thursday, February 23, 2017 10:15:00 AM CST in News
Columbia, MO
Broken Clouds 47°
9am 50°
10am 50°
11am 50°
12pm 50°

Select a station to view its upcoming schedule:

Coming Up Next

7:00a
Today
11:00a
Rachael Ray
12:00p
KOMU 8 News @ Noon
8:00a
The Steve Wilkos Show
9:00a
The Steve Wilkos Show
10:00a
Jerry Springer

Tonight's Schedule

7:00p
Grimm
8:00p
Emerald City
9:00p
Dateline NBC
7:00p
The Vampire Diaries
8:00p
Reign
9:00p
KOMU 8 News @ Nine on The CW
9:30p
Seinfeld