Holding cell incident could produce lawsuit

The battle is heating up over the firing of a Columbia police officer for use of excessive force.

18-year veteran officer Rob Sanders lost his job Wednesday after surveillance video showed him pushing a man into a concrete wall.

After being pushed into a holding cell wall, Ken Baker, 38, spent 4 days in the hospital with a fractured vertebrae and wounds to the back of his head. Sanders could now be the subject of a lawsuit.

Baker's attorney Ron Netemeyer said, Certainly, my client has the right, and we may pursue a civil lawsuit against the City of Columbia and against Officer Sanders. Before we do that, we want to sit down and make sure that we TMre all on the same page. That TMs what needs to be done.

Sanders said he will fight his dismissal. He said has already been cleared of any wrong doing by an internal investigation. He even called his firing a "public relations maneuver" by the chief...who quickly fired back by saying that's simply not true.

Columbia Police Chief Ken Burton said, He was not cleared. The chain of command including the sergeant, the captain and the deputy chief all recommended that those complaints be sustained, which was the proper category.

Also concerning to Burton is the amount of time Baker spent in the holding cell without medical attention. We don TMt know what time Baker was first put in the holding cell on the night of August 15. We do know that he was maced during his arrest and had been asking for water to rinse his eyes. At 11:36 p.m. the video shows Sanders shoving Baker against the wall of the cell. Blood can then be seen on Sander TMs arm. About 15 minutes later, officers come in to check on Baker. It wasn't for another 15 minutes when they took Baker to the hospital. Baker has been arrested at least 25 times prior to this incident, but his attorney says that doesn't justify what happened.

Netemeyer said, In no way at all does that justify the conduct of the police department and officer sanders when they have a defenseless person in their custody in a holding cell who can TMt see because he is blinded by mace, and then they come in and break his back and bust his head open. I don't see how that justifies their actions at all.

Netemeyer says Baker is still under a doctor's care and wants the City or Officer Sanders to pay a long list of doctor bills.

Two other Columbia police officers involved with the incident are under investigation, but remain on duty.