Oklahoma Court of Civil Appeals Orders Reinstatement of Police Officer
Wednesday, April, 23, 2014
Mike Denton, a former police officer with the Owasso City Police, was ordered to be reinstated, as per an arbitration panel’s ruling by the Oklahoma Court of Civil Appeals.
Denton was fired by the city in 2011 for “excessive use of force” that the city found violated its rules of conduct for police. In a videotape recorded by the police department, Denton was shown physically abusing a man brought in on a drunk and disorderly conduct charge. Denton appealed the decision and it was brought to an arbitrator, as per the agreement between the city and the police department. The arbitrator ruled that although Denton’s actions violated police policies, they were not severe enough to warrant dismissal, and ordered him reinstated with back pay, and his punishment reduced to a written reprimand. The city did not comply, and instead filed a lawsuit, which they won. District Judge Dana Kuehn wrote that Denton posed "a special risk of injury, physical and psychological, to citizens” when ruling against the arbitrator.
Denton appealed and won, and the city has now been ordered to follow the original arbitration decision. Although the city can ask the State Supreme Court to review the appeal, the city hasn’t issued any statements about future steps in the matter.