Judge rules two West Memphis officers should be eligible for diversion

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - Friday, a Shelby County judge ruled two West Memphis Police officers charged with reckless homicide four years ago should be eligible for diversion. Something that would keep the pair out of jail.

Friday's ruling stems from a shooting caught on dashcam video in July of 2004.

It shows West Memphis Police officers shooting more than a dozen times inside a Honda Accord, 44 year old driver Donald Rickard and his girlfriend Kelly Allen.

The shooting came at the end of a high speed pursuit that began as a routine traffic stop in West Memphis.

Police pulled over the car but Rickard refused to get out and pulled away.

He crossed over into Memphis, was cornered by officers, and when he tried to take off again, officers opened fire.

Friday, the judge said the two West Memphis officers Troy Galtelli and John Gardner should be allowed diversion in this case.

The ruling came as welcomed news to their boss.

"Although it was tragic these are police officers and I was asked today are we going to discontinue the pursuits. No we're not. We can't send down a message that we're not going to chase criminals period," West Memphis police chief Bob Paudert said.

Diversion would allow the charges to be dismissed after a period of good behavior.

Shelby County Prosecutors still could appeal the judges' ruling today.

The officers still face a lawsuit from the families of the deceased in civil court and they remain on the force in West Memphis.

Click here to e-mail Andrew Douglas.