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Former Columbia Police officer wins lawsuit against city

A former Columbia Police officer has won his lawsuit against the city that fired him more than three years ago.

Last Friday, Judge Pat Joyce ruled in favor of Rob Sanders’ suit against the City of Columbia.

The police department fired Sanders after he pushed a suspect in the department’s holding cell, causing spinal injuries.

Joyce’s order Friday asks that Sanders’ attorney, Scott Jansen, help write the order to reverse the City of Columbia’s decision.

The push that created years of battles in court could soon be ending.

Sanders sued the city last year to get his job back.

In August 2011, Sanders helped arrest Kenneth Baker for outstanding felony warrants.

At the police department, Baker became irritated after officers used pepper spray. Sanders pushed Baker when he began pounding on his holding cell door.

Chief Ken Burton fired Sanders a month later.

Sanders’ lawsuit said the city’s ordinance on using force is “vague and ambiguous” on improper treatment of a prisoner.

The 18-year police veteran battled the decision for the next few years, when an administrative board took up the issue in 2013.

While Sanders technically followed the rules, Burton and City Manager Mike Matthes upheld the decision to keep him off the force.

ABC 17 News tried several times Tuesday to get in touch with Sanders’ attorney, but didn’t hear back.

While Friday’s court decision allows Sanders to come back to the force, it’s not official yet.

The city’s attorney, John Landwehr said they will most likely appeal the decision.

Then, it could be several months before it’s settled.

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