Arnold case to get new hearing examiner
In a final order, it has been ruled there will be a new hearing examiner for a second arbitration hearing for former Orange Police Officer Robert Arnold.
According to City Attorney, John Smith, the case was remanded by the American Arbitrators Association and there will be another hearing examiner chosen to reside over a second hearing.
Leroy Bartman, the hearing examiner during the first hearing in May 2011, had “exceeded his jurisdiction” and made his decision “void” when he made a ruling for Arnold to be reinstated to his job. Bartman stated Arnold was not given due process which would allow Arnold to be reinstated on the technicality. Cash insists Bartman did not follow the facts of the case before he made his ruling.
The city of Orange filed an appeal of the decision and in October Smith argued the case before Judge Elizabeth Ray. In November, Ray made a ruling and the city won the appeal. As a result, both sides would have to ”start from square one” and undergo an arbitration hearing once more.
However, Arnold’s attorney could also file an appeal disallowing the change to a new hearing examiner.
Smith said he will wait to see what the next step will be. He added he does not know when the new hearing will be conducted.
Arnold was discharged from his job at OPD following an incident in July 2010 when he shot and killed 28-year-old James Whitehead of West Orange.
Whitehead had gone to the O’Reilly Auto Parts store on 16th Street to return a part for a pickup truck he was attempting to repair. However, the clerk refused to allow the return on the part. As a result, Whitehead became angry and began cursing. An employee of the store call 9-1-1 for assistance in the matter.
Arnold who was off duty and also a customer at the store reportedly told Whitehead to calm down which caused him to direct his anger at the officer by calling him racial slurs. Arnold walked out the door with Whitehead leaving the store a short time after him.
Whitehead was getting into the passenger side of his neighbor’s pickup truck, which he had arrived in, and the confrontation between Arnold and Whitehead continued. The situation escalated to the point where Whitehead was fatally shot by Arnold.
An investigation into the matter was conducted by the Texas Rangers. The case was turned over to the Orange County Grand Jury. They decided to “no-bill” Arnold of any charges.
Arnold and his attorney’s have also been in mediations with the city of Orange in reference to a racial discrimination case filed against the city. According to court documents, the suit is for lost income, past, present and future in addition to lost benefits and loss of ability to contribute to his retirement. In addition, they are seeking damages for mental anguish and emotional distress. Arnold’s attorneys also filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission alleging the racial discrimination. However, according to Smith, in March the EEOC determined there was “no discrimination.”