A fired Little Rock police officer has been reinstated to the force and will be reimbursed $228,187 in lost wages and legal expenses after a 3½-year court battle.
A ruling by Pulaski County Circuit Judge Alice Gray converts Cristie Dianne Young's punishment to a 30-day suspension without pay and a reduction in rank from sergeant to patrol officer.
Young, 41, returned to work about two weeks ago when Gray indicated she was going to rule in Young's favor, her attorney Robert Newcomb said on Thursday.
He said Young worked briefly after losing her job but mostly lived "hand to mouth" while waiting for her case to be decided.
Young had been with the department 16 years at the time, 13 years as an officer after three years as an intern at the department, when she was fired in January 2012 by Chief Stuart Thomas, now retired, who acted on recommendations of her supervisors.
She appealed her termination to the city Civil Service Commission, which upheld her firing in a 4-2 vote in March 2012, leading to Young challenging that decision in a lawsuit that same month. The judge ruled on Oct. 9 in a decision released on Monday.
In the ruling, Gray agrees with the Police Department's grounds to discipline Young for violations of department rules for failing to report domestic violence she had witnessed, engaging in activity that could bring justified criticism on the department and failure to obey a lawful order.
The judge ruled that Young committed these infractions by:
• Failing to report to police that Young and her husband had been in a fight on June 28, 2011, at the Holcombe Heights apartments, 2100 Rebsamen Park Road, while they were separating. They have since reconciled.
• Being involved in domestic violence in that altercation with her husband, Christopher Allen Young, 34, a fellow police officer. He received a two-day suspension.
• Refusing a superior officer's order to leave the couple's apartment about two weeks later, on July 11.
• Failing to turn over the keys to the apartment to an assistant police chief.
Newcomb accused the department of actively siding with Cristie Young's husband while they were going through a separation. He argued that Young's punishment was excessive for an officer who had never committed official misconduct.
"In this case, we have an officer who was never disciplined for any police misconduct, never by using her position as a police officer to violate an individual's constitutional rights," Newcomb stated in court filings. "We have an officer who received two life-saving awards and numerous other significant commendations."
Other officers in similar situations or who have committed worse infractions were not fired, Newcomb told the judge.
Young's previous disciplines -- a written reprimand in November 2013, a five-day suspension in February 2007 and a two-day suspension in 2009 -- were for off-duty incidents involving her personal life, Newcomb said.
Young has come to the public attention before. In March 2005, she was involved in the discovery of an ailing and unconscious 85-year-old woman, Geneva Law.
The mother of three was covered in ants, roaches, bruises and bedsores on a urine-soaked mattress in a room at her son's Little Rock home. Police initially charged her children with second-degree murder when the woman died a month later.
But when medical authorities could not conclusively link Law's death to the neglect she had suffered, her son and daughter, Warren Law and Mary Margaret Law, were subsequently convicted of adult abuse and they each received prison sentences.
In another high-profile case, Young was on patrol in June 2007 when she attempted to pull over a car she recognized as having been used in some fast-food restaurant robberies.
The driver, Jonathon Moore, sped off and eventually crashed into another motorist during the pursuit, killing that second driver, 58-year-old Isaac Brown, a father of four. A 22-year-old passenger in Moore's car was ejected during the crash, but no one saw Kieuna Poindexter fly over a bridge, and Moore did not tell police she had been in the car.
Poindexter's body was not found for two days. Moore was convicted of two counts of first-degree murder for the deaths in the crash and sentenced to 35 years in November 2008.
Metro on 10/16/2015
Print Headline: LR officer fired in 2012 wins job back, $228,187 restitution