Pubdate: Wed, 19 Dec 2001
Source: Courier-Journal, The (KY)
Copyright: 2001 The Courier-Journal
Author: Matt Batcheldor
Bookmark: (Corruption)


2 Suspended For Improper Use Of Force

A Louisville police officer has been arrested on charges of illegally 
obtaining prescription drugs.

And in two other cases, two officers have been suspended without pay 
for violating use-of-force rules.

In the drug case, Officer Curtis W. Burton, 43, was charged with 
obtaining a controlled substance by deception, a Class D felony, said 
Detective Bill Keeling, a Louisville police spokesman.

A warrant for Burton's arrest was issued Sunday and served Monday 
night, said Debbie Linnig Michals, a spokeswoman for the Jefferson 
Circuit Court clerk's office.

Burton, who lives on English Avenue in the Audubon neighborhood, was 
released on his own recognizance, Michals said.

He will be arraigned tomorrow.

Burton has been suspended with pay since Nov. 29, Keeling said, when 
police began an internal investigation.

Keeling confirmed that the investigation was based on a tip, but he 
would not elaborate.

Burton will continue to be paid until the inquiry is complete, Keeling said.

''We take these matters very seriously,'' he said.

''It's a severe liability to both the citizens, taxpayers and the 
city -- as well as the reputation of the department.''

According to court records, Burton obtained a prescription painkiller 
Sunday without telling the doctor about a previous prescription, 
which he got on Dec. 6 from another doctor. The doctor who wrote the 
later prescription said she would not have prescribed the painkiller 
if she had known of the first prescription.

Burton is a patrolman in the department's Fourth District in western 
Louisville who joined the force as a recruit in 1999, Keeling said.

In the use-of-force cases, The Courier-Journal learned yesterday that 
Officer Dennis Chi, 30, was suspended for 15 days, beginning on Dec. 
3, for striking a person's car with a baseball bat.

Also, Officer Sean Verdi, 39, was suspended for five days, effective 
Dec. 4, for slamming a handcuffed man's head to the ground several 

The information was in personnel files that Louisville police 
released yesterday after the newspaper requested them under the 
Kentucky Open Records Act.

Chi declined to comment, and Verdi could not be reached.

Both officers joined the force as recruits in September 1999, said 
Alicia Smiley, a police spokeswoman. Chi works in the Third District 
in the South End; Verdi works in the First District in the East End.

According to a memo written by Chief Greg Smith in Chi's personnel 
file, this is why his suspension was recommended:

It was nearly midnight on Aug. 6 when Chi arrived in the 4700 block 
of Taylor Boulevard on a report of a fight with weapons. Other 
officers also arrived.

A man at the scene told Chi that several people had gone to a nearby 
apartment. When Chi went there, he noticed five or six other people 
in the parking lot. When two plainclothes officers also responded, 
one of the men approached one of the plainclothes officers with a 
baseball bat. The plainclothes officer identified himself as a police 
officer and took the bat. The people were questioned, and the police 
searched their car. Then the plainclothes officers told the people in 
the parking lot they could leave.

But Chi was angered by the decision to let the people go, the memo 
said. He approached the man holding the baseball bat, snatched the 
bat, asked the man if the car was his and hit it with the bat.

Chi said his intent was to ''make a point and get his attention.''

He also told the people, ''I don't want to catch you all back over 
here'' and ''get the hell out of here,'' the memo said.

Although Chi damaged the vehicle, he didn't notify his supervisor or 
submit a use-of-force form.

A memo in Verdi's personnel file described why Smith recommended that 
officer's suspension.

On Aug. 24, after chasing a suspect on foot, Verdi ''hit the 
handcuffed suspect's head against the ground several times,'' Smith 
wrote. This violated rules of treating prisoners and use of physical 

Louisville police Officer Curtis W. Burton, 43, was charged with 
obtaining a controlled substance by deception, a felony.
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