FOP President Comments on Fired Officer's Charges
COLUMBIA - Special prosecutor Michael Russelman filed misdemeanor 3rd degree assault charges against former Columbia police officer Rob Sanders. The charges came after allegations that Officer Sanders used excessive force and violated police policy.
A video was released of the incident where it appears that Officer Sanders shoved inmate Kenneth Baker in a holding cell. Baker suffered a fractured vertebra during the incident and decided to press charges against Officer Sanders.
Internal affairs conducted an investigation into Officer Sanders' conduct during the incident and, in a 39-page report, exhaunerated Officer Sanders of all allegations. But despite the result of the investigation, Columbia Police Chief Ken Burton fired Officer Sanders on those same grounds.
The Fraternal Order of Police said they do not agree with Burton's decision to fire Officer Sanders. FOP President Kevin Ahlbrand said he found it interesting that it took so long for the prosecutor to file the charges.
"I think there's obviously some political influences there that have swayed the prosecutor in the decision to issue this case," Ahlbrand said. "The thing that I find really ironic is that the special prosecutor issued these charges five days short of the expiration of the statute of limitations. And for a prosecutor to take 360 days to make a decision on a case like this is just ridiculous."
Ahlbrand said he is confident that Officer Sanders will get his job back. The FOP plans to stand by Officer Sanders throughout the whole trial.
The office of Michael Russelman and the Columbia Police Department had not returned KOMU calls at the time of publication.