Godwin responds to questions about timing of McRae's hearing - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Reported by Anna Marie Hartman

Godwin responds to questions about timing of McRae's hearing

Earlier this week, Action News 5 was the first to show you the beat down of transgendered Memphis woman Duanna Johnson in the intake lobby at the Shelby County Criminal Justice Center.

Attorneys for Johnson say the attack happened on February 12th.  That same month, Memphis Police Director Larry Godwin viewed video of the incident.

Days later, he fired rookie officer James Swain, who can be seen on the tape holding Johnson from behind while she is being struck by officer Bridges McRae.

"As soon as we determined the violations on him he was separated real quick," Godwin said.

But four months after the beating, McRae is still on the Memphis Police payroll, anticipating an administrative hearing. Godwin denied he was slow to schedule the officer's hearing until the tape went public. 
"The date hasn't come up yet," he said. "It's not like the timing of it coming out was because we knew it was out there."
According to Godwin, McRae's hearing has been on the books for several weeks, but the officer has had scheduling conflicts.

"(He's been) off sick. He comes back to work," Godwin said. "Just a scheduling issue, but that's been corrected. It was corrected a couple of weeks ago actually."

Godwin said McRae's hearing will take place next Wednesday, a little more than a week after Duanna Johnson's attorneys released the video to the press. 

"If this hadn't of aired, you would have already heard from me," Godwin said. "I have to wait until after before I can tell you what actually happened, 'cause I don't know what's going to happen in that hearing."

Johnson and her attorneys, Murray Wells, expressed outrage that McRae is still on the Memphis police payroll, waiting for an administrative hearing.

"He should have been suspended without pay immediately," Wells said.  "I think he should have been terminated."

Wells was skeptical that police would have disciplined the officer had the tape not gone public.

"Something should have happened a long time ago, and I'm not convinced anything would have happened had the video not become public," he said.

Johnson said she has been even more fearful of the police since her story went public, but there is a positive side.

"The people of Memphis have been real nice to me," Johnson said. "I mean, the support - the kind words - that means more than anything in the world."

Friday, the president of the Memphis Police Association said it is very common for an administrative hearing to be scheduled several months after a complaint is filed. 

Meanwhile Friday, Johnson's story was featured on a gay and lesbian channel on Sirius Satellite Radio.

"I'm not sure whether or not it does anything for Duanna's case, but hopefully it will do something for the next person that ends up in Duanna's situation," Wells said.  "A lot of people are outraged, and they're telling me that if it can happen to me, it can happen to their kids - it could happen to them."

Click here to e-mail Anna Marie Hartman.

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