Louisiana (Ramon Antonio Vargas-NOLA.com) – A panel of state appellate court judges voted 2-1 Wednesday to reverse an earlier decision upholding the dismissal of a New Orleans Police Department officer who fired his service weapon numerous times into his personal car while on duty. The main reason is one that by now is familiar for the NOPD: The department’s internal investigation into Patrick O’Hern took too long, violating his rights under the law.
The ruling in O’Hern’s case is the latest legal opinion to find fault with NOPD’s policy of waiting to start administrative investigations into officers’ actions until after related criminal probes have been completed, which at times exceeds time limits set forth in the state law known as the “Police Officers Bill of Rights.”
In a separate case in January, a state appellate court panel sided with Sgt. Tyrone Robinson, who appealed a 30-day suspension he received after accusations that he battered a high school student in 2008. Robinson successfully argued that the administrative probe into the allegations against him took almost a year, though the Police Officers Bill of Rights requires that such investigations be completed within 60 days if there is no valid reason to extend that deadline to 120 days.