Fired Cop Who Broke Suspect’s Neck in 2011 is Now Suing For His Job Back

More than six years after Rob Sanders was fired from the Columbia Police Department after shoving an inmate, his lawsuit against the city challenging that decision is ready to go to trial.

“It’s been a long time to be” in court, Sanders said Friday. “We’re ready to go to trial at this point.”

The veteran officer’s lawsuit against the city of Columbia will head to trial as early as December, according to court filings. Sanders, who confirmed Friday that he and his attorney are preparing for trial, said he is hoping a judge will reinstate him as an officer with the Columbia Police Department, order payment of back wages and give him access to his full retirement benefits, which he was two years shy of receiving. His lawsuit argues the administrative decision to fire him was improper.

Sanders had been a CPD officer for about 18 years when he was fired after an August 2011 incident in which he shoved prisoner Kenneth Baker to the ground in a holding cell, causing Baker to hit his head against a wall. The shove broke one of the Baker’s vertebrae.

The department’s Internal Affairs Unit investigated Sanders’ use of force, finding he may have violated a city ordinance and orders given to police officers that dictate their conduct.

Police Chief Ken Burton fired Sanders on Sept. 21, 2011 after he received a report from the Internal Affairs Unit. Sanders’ subsequent appeals of the chief’s decision were unsuccessful; the city’s Personnel Advisory Board and City Manager Mike Matthes upheld the decision.

Baker later sued the city and won a $250,000 settlement. Cole County Prosecuting Attorney Mark Richardson charged Sanders with misdemeanor assault, but he was acquitted after a 2013 trial.

The ongoing lawsuit will be the second time a circuit court judge reviews the city’s decision to fire Sanders. A Cole County judge reversed Matthes’ decision, but the city appealed and the Missouri Court of Appeals Western District sent the case back on procedural grounds. The ruling from the appeals court effectively began the case anew.

Now back in Boone County, a judge will decide the case after reviewing the record and hearing arguments from lawyers, who will also present witnesses and evidence at trial. Court records indicate there has been little movement in the lawsuit during the past year other than taking depositions.

In his request for a trial date last week, Sanders’ attorney, Scott Jansen, waived Sanders right to a jury and estimated the bench trial will take two days. Jansen and a city attorney wer not available for comment Friday.

Sanders said he has stayed in the area training dogs, coaching cheerleading and working security since he was fired, but wants to return to police work.


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Filming Cops
Filming Cops 5618 posts

Filming Cops was started in 2010 as a conglomerative blogging service documenting police abuse. The aim isn’t to demonize the natural concept of security provision as such, but to highlight specific cases of State-monopolized police brutality that are otherwise ignored by traditional media outlets.

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