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Chief fires one officer, disciplines two others for Green Meadows shooting

Hendersonville police chief Herbert Blake has fired one officer, suspended another and reprimanded a supervisor for the shooting incident on March 8 that triggered protests in the black community.

In a news release issued today, the city said that it has learned that District Attorney Jeff Hunt would not bring charges against the officers involved in the non-fatal shooting of an unarmed burglary suspect.
"However, our concurrent internal investigation revealed obvious and severe policy and general orders violations that put the lives and the safety of the public we are sworn to protect and serve in jeopardy," Blake said. "After reviewing the results of our internal findings, we have decided to separate Officer Matt Lund from employment. Officer Curtis Philon will be suspended for two weeks without pay. Philon will also be required to attend remedial training as directed by the department. Sergeant Brandon McGaha, the supervisor on duty at the time, will receive a written reprimand."

 

Community leaders in the Green Meadows neighborhood held meetings and protested the shooting, saying the suspect was unarmed and running away and that a volley of bullets endangered residents in the area.
Here is the full news released issued by the city police department today.
"On March 8, 2012, officers from the City of Hendersonville Police Department were dispatched to a burglary call at a business close to the Green Meadows community. Upon initial contact with a suspect, the responding officers indicated they believed the suspect in question was carrying a handgun. The suspect ran from police officers. Some searches and foot pursuits followed that resulted in multiple shots being fired at the suspect. In recognition of the severity of this incident, Chief Herbert Blake immediately asked the State Bureau of Investigations to investigate these officers' actions. The Hendersonville Police Department also initiated an internal investigation into the incident. The officers involved were placed on administrative leave until both investigations were completed.
"While the police department's internal investigation was completed sometime ago, the city withheld our findings until the SBI completed its inquiry. That investigation is now complete and has been submitted to the District Attorney. We have learned that the District Attorney does not intend to pursue criminal proceeding against the officers.
"However, our concurrent internal investigation revealed obvious and severe policy and general orders violations that put the lives and the safety of the public we are sworn to protect and serve in jeopardy.
"After reviewing the results of our internal findings, we have decided to separate Officer Matt Lund from employment. Officer Curtis Philon will be suspended for two weeks without pay. Philon will also be required to attend remedial training as directed by the department. Sergeant Brandon McGaha, the supervisor on duty at the time, will receive a written reprimand."
"All police officers employed by the City of Hendersonville receive continual training on appropriate police procedures. In fact, use of force training, including department policy, department general orders and department philosophy regarding use of force, was conducted just weeks before this critical incident occurred. The officers involved in this incident attended the training, yet took actions on March 8 that were in direct violation of the training and policies of our police department.
"The City of Hendersonville apologizes to the Green Meadows Community for this unfortunate incident, the threat to individual safety resulting from these actions, and the disruption to community life that resulted from these actions. We believe we have acted appropriately in responding to the incident with this termination and disciplinary actions.
"We reiterate our commitment to keeping the citizens of Hendersonville safe. We have faith and confidence in the professionalism, preparedness and commitment of our police officers who are sworn to protect our citizens. We will continue our efforts to intensively train, educate and to prepare our officers to uphold the highest standards of law enforcement.
"Further, we wish to publicly affirm our belief in the safety of the Green Meadows neighborhood, and the strong social fabric and sense of community that has been built by its residents. Green Meadows is an important part of the City of Hendersonville, and contributes greatly to the quality of life that our community is known for."