Officer who shot UF student chose to stay on leave
Published: Thursday, April 1, 2010 at 7:26 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, April 1, 2010 at 7:26 p.m.
Four of the University of Florida police officers involved in the March 2 incident in which a student was shot have returned to work at desk jobs, but the officer who actually fired the weapon has decided to continue his leave, according to police department officials.
After the shooting of doctoral student Kofi Adu-Brempong, the five officers who entered Adu-Brempong's campus apartment were placed on paid administrative leave. UF spokesman Steve Orlando said the typical procedure would have been placing just the officer who fired the weapon on leave but the step was taken for all five "out of an abundance of caution."
Four of the officers -- Stacy Ettel, William Ledger, James Mabry and William Sasser -- were allowed to return to work in administrative duty starting the week after the incident. The fifth -- Keith Smith, whom police reported fired two shots, including at least one that hit Adu-Brempong -- was allowed to return but decided to use vacation time, according to police.
"He's out by his own choice right now," said University Police Chief Linda Stump.
Stump and other UF officials are meeting today with representatives of groups that have protested the shooting. The media have been prohibited from attending the meeting.
Members of the groups, calling themselves the Coalition for Justice Against Police Brutality, plan a protest rally Tuesday at 4 p.m. starting at UF's Turlington Plaza. The group's demands include the indefinite unpaid suspension of Smith.
Justin Wooten, a member of the coalition and Students for a Democratic Society, said he thinks Smith should not be allowed to return to work.
"I would say, personally, they should just get rid of him," he said.
Adu-Brempong, 35, was shot in the face March 2 in his campus apartment. Police reported that they first tried to subdue him with non-lethal weapons and he was shot because he was swinging a metal rod at an officer; he claims he was alarmed when they entered and reached for a rod from a broken computer desk when weapons started being fired.
He suffered extensive injuries to his jaw and other parts of his mouth, and still has a bullet lodged near his spine. He's facing charges of aggravated assault on an officer and resisting an officer with violence in the incident.
Orlando said typical procedure following such an incident would be putting the officer who fired the gun on leave but allowing the officer to return to work after being cleared by a psychiatric examination. He said Smith was given such clearance, opening the way for his return.
He said the four other officers were put on desk jobs, rather than patrol, as the Florida Department of Law Enforcement continues to investigate the case.
"Since this is taking a while, they would like them to be productive in some way," he said.
Nathan Crabbe can be reached at 338-3176 or email@example.com.
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