A three-member civilian review committee has upheld the 25-day suspension given to a Pine Bluff police officer who was charged with conduct unbecoming an officer.
Police Chief Kelvin Sergeant suspended Officer Shamario Johnson for two separate incidents that occurred within a 10-day period in January.
Johnson, who has been with the department since 2011, appealed his suspension to the review committee, which replaced the Civil Service Commission. The Pine Bluff City Council voted to do away with the commission several years ago.
In their summary, released Wednesday afternoon, the committee said they could find no reason to deviate from the original disciplinary action given by Sergeant. The committee consisted of Assistant City Attorney Jennifer Montgomery, Jeff Gaston, who is the director of Code Enforcement, and Sarah Price, who works for Community and Economic Development.
One of the two incidents involved an exchange between Johnson and Officer Kevin Collins that occurred Jan. 1 on the parking lot of Domino’s Pizza on Olive Street, where Johnson also works as a part-time delivery driver.
In his testimony at the hearing, Johnson said he had gotten out of his truck after seeing a truck stuck in the ditch and seeing blue lights. Johnson said he heard a voice, later identified as Collins, tell him to get back in the truck. He described Collins as “being hostile” after he, Johnson, identified himself and said the two exchanged curse words with each other.
In response, Sergeant said the incident began when Collins pulled Johnson’s vehicle over for a broken tail light and brake light. The chief said Johnson cursed at Collins, including once when Collins was keying his radio.
“He testified that (Johnson) was upset and disorderly,” Sergeant said. “The only reason he was not arrested for disorderly conduct was because he was a police officer.”
The second incident, which occurred Jan. 9 or 10, involved a traffic stop by Officer Natalie McCool on Johnson’s truck. Johnson said both he and McCool were at 6th and University, and he saw the police car beside slow down and pull behind him. He said McCool then conducted a traffic stop and “turned off her body camera. She said nothing.”
After asking her if they were done, she said “yes,” and Johnson said he drove to work.
When he saw McCool later at the police station, he said he asked her why she stopped him; she said she had paced him driving 45 miles per hour in a 35 mile per hour speed zone. Johnson also said McCool did not follow proper procedure in the traffic stop because she did not identify herself, her department or explain the reason for the stop.
Countering that statement, Sergeant said he had been pulled over by a Pine Bluff police officer who did not recognize Sergeant or the vehicle he was driving at the time, and after the officer saw who was driving, he also did not say who he was or what department he worked for.
“He (Johnson) had an attitude when he asked McCool ‘are we done’ and she said ‘yes,’” Sergeant said. “There are standards of conduct, and he broke them.”