FW Cop Dismissed Twice, Gets Job Back

A Fort Worth police officer who twice lost his job with the department has been reinstated.

The latest ruling cites a "fatally flawed" investigation and the city's rush to judgment.

Jesus "Jesse" Banda is to be immediately reinstated and will receive back pay, hearing examiner Bill Detwiler said in the April 2 ruling obtained Tuesday by the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

Those who investigated Banda's latest removal declined comment.

Police spokeswoman Lt. Rene Kamper says there's a system in place and the department will stand by the hearing examiner's decision and go forth.

Banda had been indefinitely suspended -- essentially fired -- in September on accusations that he falsely represented himself as police officer in May when a vehicle he was in was stopped for a traffic violation.

At the time, Banda had been on indefinite suspension over allegations that he used police resources to find the address of a romantic rival whose pickup was later struck by gunfire. Although no criminal charges were filed in the shooting, then-Police Chief Ralph Mendoza had said that he suspected Banda was involved and indefinitely suspended him in summer 2007.

But that suspension was reduced to 90 days in August after a hearing examiner ruled that the discipline was inappropriate when compared with similar cases, and that the shooting should not have been considered by police officials.

Banda had been reinstated only a month before he was indefinitely suspended the second time.

In the latest incident, Detwiler ruled that there was not just cause to indefinitely suspend Banda because whether he misrepresented himself as an officer could not be determined.

Detwiler said the probe was not "careful, full and unbiased," saying the investigating officers did not question others in the car with Banda that night or determine whether Banda had turned in his city-issued ID card that said he was a peace officer.

Terry Daffron Hickey, Banda's attorney, said he and his client were "very pleased" with the ruling.

"The hearing examiner took issue with the same problems that we took issue with," Hickey said. "I think when you're in a situation where you're investigating a police officer and it's a serious accusation and their job is on the line, there's a duty out there to do a thorough, fair and complete investigation."

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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