Lancaster TX – Police Chief Cheryl Wilson was given a paid vacation on Thursday, while investigators determine if she acted appropriately by allowing one of her officers to return to duty while he was still under investigation for the use of excessive force.
Chief Wilson’s suspension stems from an incident on August 17th, when Lt. Michael Fine confronted Alexander Tucker on W. Pleasant Run Road. Lt. Fine approached Tucker, who immediately asked why he was being detained and instead of providing an answer, Fine told him that he would ‘get tased’ if he didn’t obey.
Fine proceeded to grab Tucker’s arm and lead him towards his squad car where he then assaulted and attempted to handcuff Mr. Tucker without providing any probable cause. When Mr. Tucker passively resisted his unlawful arrest and continued asking why he was being detained, Lt. Fine tased him without warning and placed him in handcuffs.
When Mr. Tucker asked what he was being arrested for, Lt. Fine replied “resisting arrest” in an attempt to justify his actions with stereotypical circular cop logic. Upon further questioning of the reason for his arrest, Lt. Fine simply replied “I’m not going to talk to you anymore.”
At the end of the video, Lt Fine exposes the grim reality of his despicable job when he tells Tucker, “You’re being placed under arrest for resisting arrest.”
According to City Manager Opal Mauldin-Robertson, the day after the incident, Chief Wilson told Assistant City Manager Rona Stringfellow and City Attorney Bob Hager that Fine’s actions were
“serious, and appeared to, at a minimum, violate our policy.”
Chief Wilson met with Mayor Marcus Knight and Mauldin-Robinson two weeks later to watch the video of the incident and agreed to keep them informed about any decisions regarding the officer.
Lt. Fine was temporarily reassigned pending a review of his use of force. However, after a Dallas County prosecutor and a Texas Ranger both said he was justified in stopping Tucker, Chief Wilson returned him to regular duty even though the investigation had not been completed.
Mauldin-Robertson said Chief Wilson failed to notify her of Lt. Fine’s status for five days and went on to say that Wilson’s decision to return Fine to regular duty,
“without any actions or recourse caused some questions and concerns regarding the completeness and independent review of this matter.”
Chief Wilson’s flip-flopping and inconsistent handling of this incident of excessive force by one of her officers is indicative of the problems created by the “thin blue line.” When police routinely shield each other from accountability for brutality, lawsuits and death are almost sure to follow.
Johnny Liberty is a researcher and investigative journalist. You can follow him on twitter @LibertyUnltd