Excessive Force Case Could Lead To Rule Revision For FWPD (VIDEO)

By Jeff Neumeyer

August 5, 2013 Updated Aug 6, 2013 at 9:07 AM EDT

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (21Alive) --- A Fort Wayne patrol officer involved in a fatal police action shooting from 2007 is serving a suspension on a new complaint.

It's a case that could spur a rule revision on the department for excessive force incidents.

We learned Monday that officer James Arnold has been serving a 30-day unpaid suspension since July 7th for breaking the jaw of a man having a mental health episode.

It's not the first time Arnold has been at the center of a controversy regarding how he handled an investigation.

The Fort Wayne Board of Public Safety Monday afternoon learned of an agreement to give Arnold a 30-day suspension related to an emergency call he responded to back in January.

Police confronted a man at Old Trail and Bluffton Roads, after he was found to be walking barefoot in the freezing cold, apparently in a delusional state.

An officer called for backup and Arnold came to provide assistance.

Chief Rusty York says video from a squad car camera captured Arnold punching and delivering elbow strikes to the man, fracturing his jaw.

The man had to be hospitalized.

Defensive tactics experts on the department reviewed the video, according to York, and determined excessive force was used.

Based on this matter, Chief York wants a rule revision governing officers’ actions on the force.

" If we feel that excessive force is used, and there's serious bodily injury, that means we could come to the Board of Safety...(and pursue) what we call a Class B violation, which means that's a determinant suspension, which could mean anything up to termination," said Chief York.

Indeed, if the rule change was already in place, it’s conceivable that officer Arnold could have been fired.

The Board of Safety tabled the rule change request, saying it could decide on the matter at its September meeting.

Officer Arnold got some unwanted headlines back in 2007 as well.

He fired at least 15 rounds into a car, killing Jose Lemus Rodriguez, after the illegal immigrant disobeyed orders to stop his vehicle, and started to drive in reverse near other city officers on the scene.

Arnold was a probationary officer at the time, meaning he did not have enough time on the force to allow him to patrol by himself.

A private consulting firm that reviewed the shooting found Arnold’s actions were “objectively reasonable”.

He was not charged criminally.

But the city of Fort Wayne did pay $335,000 to the estate of Rodriguez, to settle a wrongful death suit.

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