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Arbitrator: Officer fired unfairly by TPD

Posted at 5:11 PM, May 22, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-23 14:35:37-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — An arbitrator ordered that a Tallahassee Police Officer be given back his job.

This comes months after the officer was fired in connection to a use of force case.

TPD says that on March 17, Officer Pearson was approaching a suspicious car when the driver hit his patrol car, causing his car to hit his leg. The driver then drove off and Pearson tried to stop the driver by shooting at the vehicle.

State Attorney, Jack Campbell, says it did not violate Florida law, but TPD fired Pearson anyway, saying he did violate the department's deadly force guidelines.

Officer Pearson spoke to WTXL ABC 27 last August.

"I had less than 3 seconds to respond to the attack on my life. I responded to the attack as I was trained to do. I genuinely believe the suspects were trying to kill me," said Damien Pearson, former Tallahassee Police Officer.

The arbitrator criticized Tallahassee Police Chief Michael DeLeo's decision to fire Pearson.

The arbitrator also ruled that the officer should receive back pay, in addition getting his job back.

In a statement, Chief DeLeo said:

“The Tallahassee Police Department was notified of the arbitrator’s decision to re-instate Officer Damien Pearson. I respect the due process protections that are in place for our employees, and Officer Pearson will rejoin TPD on Tuesday, May 28.

During internal investigations, it is common practice for me to ask investigators for clarification or additional information to ensure that I have the best information possible before making any decisions regarding the outcome of an investigation. The same process was followed in this case, and I supported the recommendations of the investigator.

Each case provides unique fact patterns to evaluate within the context of TPD’s policies and training, and we constantly evaluate our policies and training to ensure they are consistent with best practices and the expectations of our community."