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Dallas Police Chief's Suspension Reduced

The Dallas Morning News via YellowBrix

April 15, 2010

DALLAS – Dallas Police Chief David Kunkle has reduced a suspension from 15 days to five for a police officer who wrongly said a convicted felon was carrying a bag containing drugs.

Senior Cpl. David Nevitt, a 29-year veteran, may still appeal the chief’s decision to city management in hopes of a further reduction, said Bob Gorsky, an attorney representing him.

He said his client has “mixed feelings about it because we still think it’s kind of stiff. It was a mistake.”

The original suspension, handed down in September, stemmed from the August 2007 arrest of Thomas Hannon, who spent 10 months behind bars until a defense attorney located a surveillance video showing that another man was carrying the bag containing drugs and a gunat the time of the arrest outside a North Dallas hotel.

Prosecutors have since dismissed the charges. Hannon also was sought on suspicion of a parole violation.

Kunkle said he wrestled with his decision but concluded that Nevitt made a mistake.

“He already had a reason to arrest Hannon without the drugs or the guns being associated with him,” Kunkle said. “It just didn’t rise to the level of somebody who acted in bad faith.”

The official police report written by another officer stated that Nevitt actually saw Hannon with the bag and did not mention the existence of a video.

Later, Nevitt told investigators that he viewed the incident on video footage at the hotel. Nevitt described the video footage as being small and of poor quality.

A hotel employee, however, told internal investigators that he showed Nevitt the video footage on an enlarged screen. He also said he gave Nevitt copies of the video.

But in another statement in Hannon’s lawsuit against the arresting officers, the employee said he couldn’t recall whether he gave the copies to Nevitt or to another officer. That suit is pending.

“To state now that this was a mistake is intentional disregard for the obvious truth,” Hannon’s attorneys, Scott Palmer and John Wall, said in a prepared statement. “He was caught red-handed in a false statement.”

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