Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Erik Sammis Back At Work

The exonerated officer Erik Sammis went back to work yesterday. His partner Jimmy Evans went back last week. He has been cleared by the Justice Department, the Arkansas state police and the city of West Memphis. I don't know what job he's doing now, but he has the support of the department. Some people see this as a direct slap in the face of the black citizens of West Memphis. I don't think that's the case though. The people of West Memphis can't see the forest for the trees. It would be better for him to take a job offer elsewhere on his own, than to be fired by the chief. That would kill two birds with one stone. They would have him off the force and the city wouldn't be liable for a lawsuit. Even Al Sharpton was claiming that as a victory.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I heard he was given a job training new recruits.

3:12 PM  
Blogger Common said...

Officer Erik C. Sammis gave his letter of resignation today. He said it was his own choice, and he wasn't being pressured. He did say three city councilman were racist troublemakers.

10:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Officer in boy's shooting resigns
Cleared in DeAuntae's death; hopes for community healing
By Lindsay Melvin (Contact)
Thursday, December 20, 2007

A West Memphis police officer responsible for the shooting death of a 12-year-old boy says he is resigning from the force to take a better-paying job, but also in order for the community to begin healing.

Sgt. Erik Sammis, whose last day is Friday, laid out his reasons for resigning in an impassioned letter released Wednesday by Chief Bob Paudert.

"My reasons for leaving the department are primarily for the financial benefit of my family, but are in part due to the healing in which the community needs," Sammis wrote.

The letter did not state what job Sammis has accepted.

"He said he couldn't talk about it. It's classified," said Paudert, who suspects the new position involves armed services training for the government.

Sammis is former military and had been SWAT team commander for the department, training other officers how to enter high-risk situations.

Attempts to reach Sammis on Wednesday were unsuccessful.

On Monday, Sammis returned to work for the first time since June 22, the night he and Patrolman Jimmy Evans staked out a convenience store near the Steeplechase Apartments, responding to a tip on a possible burglary.

Sammis spotted DeAuntae Farrow walking with his cousin, holding what appeared to be a gun. Later it was discovered to be a toy pistol. The officer told the boy to drop the weapon and get on the ground; when DeAuntae didn't obey the order, Sammis fired two deadly shots.

The officers were placed on paid leave. Both were cleared by state prosecutors and an internal investigation by the West Memphis Police Department.

Evans returned to work several weeks ago.

The fact that a white officer killed a black child outraged many in the West Memphis black community.

Earlier this month, the city council passed a resolution asking for the resignations of Sammis, Evans and Paudert. The council passed the resolution by a 6-4 vote, with all six black members approving it while the four white members voted against.

After learning of Sammis' resignation, Memphis attorney Jay Bailey, who represents the Farrow family, said, "I'm pleased that this concludes one chapter in the life of West Memphis and in our struggle to find justice for DeAuntae Farrow."

In his letter, Sammis slammed his critics: "They drew their own conclusions based on hate and drew out a racial boundary in the city that will be hard to overcome."

He said he was not leaving "on the terms of those who call themselves community leaders, preachers, pastors, and certainly not on the terms of Council Members Marco McClendon, Lorraine Robinson, and James Pullium. These city council members should strive to better the community, not rip it apart with deception and hate."

The Arkansas Supreme Court is still set to hear arguments on the Farrow case on Jan. 24.

Crittenden County Circuit Court Judge Victor Hill is trying to empanel a grand jury to investigate the case. Special prosecutor H.G. Foster of Conway, Ark., overseeing the state investigation, has asked the high court to stop the judge.

Sammis' temporary return to the department was to train his replacement, Paudert said.

The chief said losing Sammis is a hard hit for the department.

"We had the best SWAT team in the state," Paudert said, which he attributed to Sammis. "He was known for his ability to really de-escalate any situation."

Racial tensions continue to run high in West Memphis, said Greg Grant, president of the local chapter of Rev. Al Sharpton's National Action Network.

The group brought national attention to the case when Sharpton attended DeAuntae's funeral.

"You go to beauty shops, barber shops or any corner store in that area and people are talking about this situation and it's not going away," Grant said.

Walking the streets in communities that are nearly 100 percent black, Sammis would not have been seen as a friend, Grant said.

"That's what he had staring him in the face. I think that's enough pressure to make a decision," he said.

Sammis, however, said otherwise in his letter.

"I'm leaving this department knowing that I was right and knowing that I did the right thing," he said.

6:59 PM  
Blogger Common said...

Resignation letter from Sgt. Erik Sammis
Thursday, December 20, 2007

The following resignation letter from Sgt. Erik Sammis was sent to West Memphis Police Chief Robert Paudert, who shared it with The Commercial Appeal.


"Please accept this letter of resignation from the West Memphis Police Department effective Friday, December 21st, 2007. I have enjoyed working with the members of the WMPD especially under your command. My reasons for leaving the department are primarily for the financial benefit of my family, but are in part due to the healing in which the community needs following the Deaunta (sic) Farrow shooting. As you are aware, I have been contemplating other offers and opportunities well before the night of June 22nd, 2007.

"Since the beginning of this, I have received massive support from those in the community that are rational and have common sense. There were some that didn't form an opinion until after the investigation(s) were completed and they too have come to support me once they were shown the truth. Then there are others who are not rational and breed hate and racism in this community. It is sad to say that some of them hold positions on the West Memphis City Council. It is sad that you and the rest of the West Memphis Police Department have to work with and deal with these individuals who do not think beyond their personal agendas.

"They have called for my termination and/or resignation from the very beginning without knowing the details and facts about this case. They drew their own conclusions based on hate and drew out a racial boundary in the city that will be hard to overcome. You and your administration, as well as the mayor and the logical members of the city council have supported me and Jimmy Evans throughout this entire ordeal. For that I am entirely grateful. I am also grateful to the citizens in the community as well as citizens outside the community who have stepped forward and supported me. I hope that they organize and make a stand against Marco McClendon, Lorraine Robinson, and James Pullium and vote them out of office. It is obvious that their positions within the City Council is too much of a burden for them to handle rationally. They do not deserve to be called a community leader or deserve another term in office. If any "Code" of ethics were breached, it was certainly not on my part. They have let down their fellow council members and the citizens of West Memphis and have "slapped the face" of every West Memphis Police Officer who places their life on the line every day to protect the very rights that they (Robinson, McClendon, Pullium, etc.) utilize irresponsibly and abuse.

"I have not been pressured or talked into resigning from this department from anyone. I am not being asked to resign or forced out in any way. I am simply making a better choice for me and my family financially. I am leaving this department on my own terms. I am not leaving on the terms of those who call themselves community leaders, preachers, pastors, and certainly not on the terms of Council Members Marco McClendon, Lorraine Robinson, and James Pullium. These city council members should strive to better the community, not rip it apart with deception and hate. They, along with Javier Bailey, Greg Grant, and the National Action Network, have simply lied to, misled, and deceived the community with regard to this incident. They are a part of the problem, and by no means a part of the solution.

"The FBI/DOJ investigation, the Arkansas State Police investigation, the independent prosecutor investigation, and the WMPD internal investigation have all cleared me in this tragic event. I am leaving this department knowing that I did the right thing. I am leaving behind the men and women who are extremely professional and with whom I enjoyed working with both as an officer and a supervisor. I am leaving behind some of the best supervisors, detectives, dispatchers, and other staff that I will always call my friend. I am leaving behind one of the best trained and tested tactical teams in the region with whom I will always be loyal.


"Sgt. Erik C. Sammis"

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