Lexington police officer suspended for suspect treatment: Newspaper

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) – The Lexington Fayette County Urban Council is changing the way it reviews police officer disciplinary case after not being completely happy with a recent case that resulted in an eight-year veteran of the force being suspended for three weeks and ordered to go through retraining for his handling of a combative suspect.

According to the Lexington Herald-Leader, which filed a Freedom of Information request to obtain the records, officer Benjamin Fielder agreed to the suspension for one infraction and then another two days for another incident.

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The Urban Council approved the suspensions, which must be served consecutively, at its Oct. 8 meeting. They were recommended by Police Chief Lawrence Weathers and agreed to by Fielder, the newspaper reported.

The issue came up again at the Council’s Oct. 13 meeting when Councilman Mark Swanson, who previously has said he does not believe the council is given enough information to decide whether the discipline was adequate, complained the Council was just a “rubber stamp” for recommendations, the newspaper said.

According to the Herald-Leader, the council tentatively agreed to make changes to the police disciplinary process, including obtaining more details about the administrative charges or allegations against the officers.

According to the information obtained and reported by the newspaper, on May 24, officers were called to Jaeduke Drive after a car was reported driving more than 60 mph. When officers arrived, the car was in a front yard. The driver was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence. The driver allegedly became verbally aggressive and insulted Fielder, the documents said according to the newspaper.

“While the suspect was in the rear seat of the cruiser, officer Fielder shoved the subject and pulled the subject from the cruiser by the legs. When the suspect was getting up, officer Fielder placed his hands on the suspect’s throat and pressed him against the cruiser before turning the suspect’s body and placing the suspect’s chest against the cruiser’s trunk,” according to a summary included in a response-to-resistance report, the newspaper reported

In other documents, the newspaper reported  related to Fielder’s suspension, it was reported that the officer grabbed the subject by the throat/neck area twice and pointed his Taser at the suspect’s head and face.

The suspect had minor injuries that were treated by the fire department at the scene, according to the documents.

The newspaper reported the incident was reported by Lt. Chris Van Brackel to the department’s public integrity unit on June 26, nearly a month after the incident, according to the documents.

Fielder also must be retrained on de-escalation, use of force and conflict resolution.