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Appeals court says fired Columbia police officer should not get job back

COLUMBIA, Mo. (KMIZ)

A Missouri appeals court ruled Tuesday that a Columbia police officer fired for excessive use of force should not get his job back.

The Western District Missouri Court of Appeals upheld a Boone County judge's 2019 ruling that the city manager acted within the law in firing Rob Sanders after a video surfaced of him shoving a prisoner in a holding cell in 2011.

Baker, who was detained for trying to assault a police officer and pepper-sprayed during the struggle, was complaining of the spray’s sting in his eyes and asking for water. Sanders entered the cell and shoved Baker to get him on the ground. Baker’s head hit the back wall, breaking bones.

An Internal Affairs investigation found Sanders did not break Columbia Police Department rules but then-police chief Ken Burton fired Sanders. Then-city manager Mike Matthes upheld the decision, citing the CPD use of force policy and city ordinance.

The appeals court in its ruling Tuesday rejected all four points Sanders raised in his appeal. Sanders had argued that the trial court misapplied the law, that Matthes did not have substantial evidence to support his decision and that the city law Matthes used in making his decision is vague and unconstitutional.

Boone / Columbia / Top Stories

Matthew Sanders

Matthew Sanders is the digital content director at ABC 17 News.

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