A three-member review panel will decide the fate of a Pine Bluff Police Officer who was suspended for conduct unbecoming an officer.
Police Chief Kelvin Sergeant suspended Officer Shamario Johnson, who had been with the department since 2011 for 25 days, based on two separate incidents in January that were about 10 days apart.
The review panel, which consisted of Assistant City Attorney Jennifer Montgomery, Sarah Price from the Community Development Department and Jeff Gaston, who runs Code Enforcement, heard testimony from both Johnson and Sergeant Thursday and will have 10 days to make a decision. They can uphold the discipline, modify it, or reverse Sergeant’s decision.
The review panels were created after the Pine Bluff City Council abolished the Civil Service Commission.
Johnson said the first incident involved an exchange between himself and Officer Kevin Collins which occurred Jan. 1. He said he was returning to Domino’s Pizza, where he also works part-time as a delivery driver, when he saw a truck stuck in the ditch. He said he saw blue lights and assumed that officers were there to assist the driver of the truck. He said he parked and got out of his truck when he heard a voice telling him to get back in his truck.
Johnson said he saw Collins and described him as “being hostile talking to me and being on edge.” He said he told Collins “you know me” and identified himself as Johnson, and Collins replied “I don’t give a (expletive) who you are.” He said he then became angry and said “(expletive) you,” adding that by that time, there were other officers who had arrived at the scene and heard the exchange.
Collins called for a supervisor and Lt. Marcus Smith arrived, and told Johnson that Collin had pulled him over for a tail light being out, something Johnson denied Thursday. He also said Collins did not follow procedure and did not show him respect.
“I do this too,” Johnson said. “I want people to show me respect like I show them.”
The second incident, which occurred Jan. 9 or 10, involved a traffic stop conducted by Officer Natalie McCool on Johnson’s truck. Johnson said both he and McCool were at 6th and University Drive and he saw a police car beside him, then show down and pull behind him.Johnson said after McCool conducted a traffic stop “she cut off her body camera” and “never said nothing.”
Johnson said he asked her if she was done with him and she said yes, and he drove to work, and after seeing her later, asked her why she stopped him to which McColl said she had paced him driving 45 miles per hour in a 35 mile per hour speed zone. He said several days later, he was talking to another officer in the muster room when McCool said he made a derogatory noise.
Wen it was Sergeant’s turn, he said that the incident involving Johnson and Collins occurred on the parking lot of Domino’s when Collins pulled Johnson over for a broken tail light and brake light, After Collins told Johnson to get back in his vehicle, Collins allegedly said “Why are you (expletive) with me. You know who I am.”
“As Collins was keying his radio, Collins said “Expletive you know my (expletive),” Sergeant said, adding that Johnson claimed that Collin cursed him first.
“That does not excuse his actions,” Sergeant said. “He testified that he was upset and being disorderly. The only reason he was not arrested for disorderly conduct was because he was a police officer.”
The Chief said a number of officers who were there had also provided statements, and there was video of the incident.
Sergeant said Assistant Chief Ricky Whitmore had recommended that Johnson be suspended for 30 days for that incident buy Sergeant reduced it to 25 because of the length of time it took before the investigation was completed. “Discipline should be swift,” Sergeant said.
Regarding the incident between Johnson and McCool, Sergeant said McCool walked up to Johnson’s window, he did not let down the window of his vehicle until she tapped on it.
“He had an attitude when he asked ‘are we done’ and she said yes,” Sergeant said. “There are standards of conduct and broke those.”
Sergeant also said that Whitmore had recommended a 10 day suspension for Johnson but that was cut in half.
“This was my final attempt to alter his behavior,” Sergeant said.