No decision made in Robert Arnold hearing
Arguments were presented Monday morning in the 260th District Court in the appeal case for the city of Orange after an arbitrator made a judgement to give Robert Arnold his job as a police officer back to him.
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 behind 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.
Monday, City Attorney Jack Smith, stated the hearing examiner following the arbitration hearing misinterpreted and over stepped the bounds of his job which was to rule on the case based on the evidence. Instead, after a four day hearing, the examiner ruled Arnold was to be reinstated based on the fact the city of Orange violated his rights by not giving him due process.
Smith also cited many cases where a decision was made such as the case of the which involved the Galvestion police department. Like Orange, the Galveston P.D. has a collective bargaining agreement with their officers. It contains provisions which relate to the investigation and the disciplinary actions resulting from a complaint against any officer. As a result, the city was not required to comply with sections of the Texas Government Code.
The hearing examiner in the Orange case ordered Arnold be reinstated based on the examiner’s findings of the city not complying with the same code.
Greg Cagle, Arnold’s attorney, said he was aware of the case since he was the attorney for the cases mentioned. Cagle asked if the city had complied with their own rules and replied answering his own question ,” no they did not.”
He added, the city failed to follow federal, state and their own policies.
He also told the judge the shooting review board did not conduct a fair investigation by only talking to one witness at the scene. In addition, he said a hearing before a hearing examiner is no different than a bench trial before a judge.
When both attorneys were done. The judge announced she would have a decision on the appeal on Wednesday.
“I think the law is on our side,” Cagle said.
Smith said he disagrees with Cagle and feels the city will win the appeal which will call for a new hearing.
Smith added, “ That’s what makes horse races and lawsuits.”
For more information on the decision, be sure to check out the website www.therecordlive.com.