Rob Sanders' Court Trial Continues Tuesday
COLUMBIA - Former Columbia police officer Rob Sanders returns to the Boone County courthouse Tuesday for the second day of his court trial. The trial started last week, on Thursday. Sanders faces a third degree assault charge for allegedly using excessive force when he shoved inmate Kenneth Baker in a holding cell in 2011.
Baker was one of seven people to take the stand last week. Two were officers who told the court Baker resisted arrest. Former Columbia patrolman Brandon Crites said he did not see anything wrong with the way Sanders handled the situation.
Baker disagreed and said the officers told him to stick his head in the toilet when he had no water in his cell to clean his eyes from pepper spray. Baker suffered a fractured vertebra and got six staples for a head injury. Sanders' attorney argued Thursday that there is no proof of when the fractured vertebra occurred saying it could have happened in the fight between officers and Baker at his home, not when Sanders pushed him.
He 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.