Documents: Columbia police chief exonerated officer involved in questionable recording

Shayne Healea (File)

The Columbia Police Department's Chief of Police exonerated an officer involved with a recording now being analyzed by the Missouri Supreme Court, according to emails KRCG 13 obtained Wednesday.

After hearing oral arguments Tuesday, the state Supreme Court is determining whether Moniteau County Prosecutor Shayne Healea's right to attorney-client privilege was violated by the department the night of his arrest.

At the center of the issue is an apparent jailhouse video recording of him on the phone with his attorney. The recording was copied onto a disk and submitted to the special prosecutor on the case as evidence.

Columbia-based attorney Stephen Wyse filed a complaint to the department's Internal Affairs division January 23, 2017, three months after knowledge of the recording went public. Wyse is not directly involved in Healea's case. Wyse said he was concerned what happened to Healea may have happened to other suspects arrested by the department's officers.

In an email dated Aug. 9, 2017, Columbia Police Chief Ken Burton wrote the investigation into Wyse's complaint had been completed, and that he had determined the officer was exonerated.

In the email, Burton noted city code requires the chief to determine if the complaint is unfounded, the complaint is not sustained, the complaint is sustained, or the officer is exonerated. Officer exoneration, according to Burton's email, acknowledges the acts of a complaint occurred but were justified, lawful and proper.

Wyse said he then requested an appeal with the Citizens Police Review Board, but the board denied the request, noting Wyse's complaint did not fall within the city's one-year statute of limitations to report misconduct. When Wyse requested an appeal from Columbia City Manager, Mike Mathes, it was also denied. Wyse said Wednesday the chief of police never invoked the time limit in his original response.

In an email dated Oct. 6, 2017, Mathes wrote he agreed with the CPRB, citing the city ordinance requiring a complaint to be filed one year from the date of the incident.

Healea was arrested the night of Oct. 25, 2014. He faces multiple charges after police say he backed his vehicle into a downtown Columbia restaurant, injuring four people.

State law requires any detention center, including a police station, to provide a place where a suspect can speak to an attorney in private.

Repeated requests for comment on this matter have either been denied or have yet to receive a response. Tuesday night, Chief Deputy Jill Schlude said she could not comment citing Healea's case is still pending.

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