Despite the recommendation of his own department, a Lafayette, Indiana police officer will not be fired for pushing a man in a wheelchair to the ground last year, WXIN-TV reported on Wednesday.
Instead, the officer, Tom Davidson was stripped of lieutenant’s rank and was suspended for 30 days for shoving 25-year-old Nicholas Kincade during an encounter near a local school on Oct. 1, 2013.
The Lafayette Journal & Courier reported that the reduced punishment was recommended by the department’s civil service commission, comprised of five civilian residents. The group voted unanimously that Davidson’s behavior was “conduct unbecoming an officer,” but were nearly evenly divided on the allegation that his use of force was in keeping with department policy. The commission decided in a 3-2 vote that Davidson stayed within police guidelines.
Mayor Tony Roswarski told the Journal & Courier that the commission’s ruling ran counter to recommendations from both himself and Davidson’s supervisors that his employment be terminated.
“It was just inappropriate,” Police Chief Patrick Flannelly was quoted as saying about Davidson’s conduct during the incident, which began when Kincade allegedly told school employees he was carrying a gun. Davidson and other officers later determined that he was actually carrying a pocket knife, which Kincade said he carried to protect himself.
Kincade was asked to leave the vecinity of the school or face trespassing charges. But while attempting to make his way out of the area, his wheelchair ran into Davidson’s foot and shin.
Davidson stated in his report at the time that he responded with “a two handed strike, open handed” against Kincade, causing him to topple over and hit the ground. At the time, Kincade was arrested and charged with battery against a law enforcement officer, but the charge was dismissed in March 2014.
Watch WXIN’s report, as aired on Wednesday, below.