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Darren Wilson, the officer responsible for fatally shooting unarmed teenager Michael Brown, has been permitted to leave town on paid administrative leave. Residents of Ferguson and concerned citizens across the country have been imploring authorities to arrest Wilson, or at the very least revoke his pay. Here are seven lesser offenses that have gotten officers fired in other parts of the country:
1. Shooting a dog
An officer in a Chicago suburb was recently fired for shooting and killing a 14-month old German shepherd-pit bull mix after the dog bared his teeth at the officer. “He just said it had to be done. He walked up to me, told me that and walked away,” said the dog’s owner, Nicole Echlin. After a brief investigation, the 15-year veteran lost his job. “This has been really an emotional roller coaster for the community, naturally for the victim’s family, my heart goes out to them, and it’s been an emotional roller coaster for my police department,” said Chief Charles Forsyth of the Hometown Police Department.
2. Refusing to give tickets
Former Auburn, Alabama officer Justin Hanners was taken aback when a new police chief mandated a ticketing quota which required officers to make 100 “contacts” each month, including tickets, arrests, field interviews and warnings — or, 72,000 contacts a year in a 50,000 person town. When Hanners refused to keep quiet about his disapproval of the new system, he was let go. “I got into law enforcement to serve and protect,” Hanners said in an interview with Reason, “not be a bully.”
3. Cutting off someone’s hair
22-year-old Charda Gregory was arrested after being found barely conscious in a trashed motel room in Warren, Michigan. After being taken to the local jail, she was strapped into a chair while Officer Bernadette Najor began to hack at Gregory’s hair with a pair of scissors. While officers will occasionally remove hair extensions because the clips can be used as weapons, Gregory’s extensions were sewn in, and couldn’t be easily removed. Warren Police Commissioner Jere Green fired Najor as soon as he learned of the incident: “I don’t buy that’s the proper way to treat a human being,” said Green in an interview. “I don’t think it’s decent; I don’t think there was any reason to do it… There is a policy about removing wigs, but that doesn’t cover scalping a person.”
4. Driving poorly
Tallahassee officer Chris Ormerod was fired in July of this year after getting in seven preventable car crashes in less than six years. The officer had previously served a 40 hour suspension, had undergone mandatory counseling, taken a remedial driving course and an eye exam. Ormerod was also accused of brutalizing a woman during a drunk driving arrest, although that, surprisingly, was not the main impetus of his firing.
5. Shooting at a squirrel (but missing)
Former Mountain City, Tennessee officer Jody Putnam lost his job after using excessive force when trying to rid a Dollar General Store of a squirrel. When shooting at the tiny creature yielded no results, he attempted to pepper spray it. A city law states that officers are required to alert their supervisors and provide a written statement after discharging their weapon. Putnam refused to file the report and was subsequently fired. The squirrel is no longer living.
6. Agreeing to sell a machine gun, but not actually selling it
Woodrow Mann, a former officer from Doraville, Georgia was fired after allegedly trying to sell a machine gun. The department received a tip that Mann had received money for the weapon, but ultimately determined that no laws were broken because the gun was not actually delivered.
7. Shooting a suspect who had both hands in the air
Dallas Senior Corporal Amy Wilburn was fired after shooting a 19-year-old carjacking suspect, even though he had both hands in the air and did not appear to have a weapon. According to a statement from the Dallas Police Department, she violated protocol when approaching a vehicle containing suspects, and fired her weapon “upon an unarmed person without fear or justification.” The victim of the shooting survived.
Joanna Rothkopf is an assistant editor at Salon, focusing on science, health and society. Follow @JoannaRothkopf or email firstname.lastname@example.org.More Joanna Rothkopf.
A photo contest winner
A photo contest winner
“In life many people have two faces. You think you know someone, but they are not always what they seem. You can’t always trust people. My hero would be someone who is trustworthy, honest and always has their heart in the right place.” Ateya Grade 9 @ Mirman Hayati School (Herat, Afghanistan)
“I pray every night before I go to bed for a hero or an angel capable of helping defenseless children and bringing them happiness. I reach up into the sky hoping to touch a spirit who can make my wish come true.” Fatimah Grade 9 @ Majoba Hervey (Herat, Afghanistan)