Former police officer in Ark. boy's death files ethics complaint - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Former police officer in Ark. boy's death files ethics complaint

LITTLE ROCK (AP) - The former West Memphis police officer who fatally wounded a 12-year-old boy has filed an ethics complaint with a state judicial panel, accusing a circuit judge of writing a "racially motivated and charged order."

David Stewart, director of the Arkansas Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission, said Friday the panel won't take any action on former Sergeant Erik Sammis' complaint until the Arkansas Supreme Court rules on whether Crittenden County Circuit Judge Victor Hill has authority to call a grand jury to investigate the shooting.

Stewart released Sammis' December 10th complaint and a response letter from Hill. Such documents are normally kept confidential, but Stewart said Hill waived his right to confidentiality. Stewart says the panel is waiting for the Supreme Court to decide on the issue before going forward.

DeAunta Farrow died after he was shot June 22nd by Sammis, who thought the boy was carrying a gun and refused to obey orders to halt. Police were on a stakeout at an apartment complex near where DeAunta was playing. Police learned after the shooting that the boy was carrying a toy gun. 

Sammis was cleared of any wrongdoing by the Arkansas State Police, the U.S. Justice Department and the West Memphis Internal Affairs Bureau. Two special prosecutors assigned to the case said Sammis committed no prosecutable offense in fatally shooting the boy. Sammis resigned.

But Hill called a grand jury to investigate the shooting, and the special prosecutors appealed to the Supreme Court, saying their investigation was ongoing and Hill does not have the authority to call a grand jury in the case. A ruling is pending.

In a January 3rd letter to Stewart, Hill defended his impaneling of a grand jury and said he believed he was being targeted in discussing racial inequality in the justice system. He also wrote that the investigation of Farrow's death was handled differently because the child was black.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)

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