Employment decision on Marco Island 'Brady cop' may be coming soon
This is a six-month review of the most-read crime stories in Collier County on naplesnews.com from September 2018 to February 2019. Vonna Keomanyvong, firstname.lastname@example.org; 239-213-5380
A discredited Marco Island police officer's employment status has remained in limbo for more than two months, but a decision on whether he loses or retains his job may be coming soon.
City Manager David Harden said Thursday that a decision on Officer Tige Thompson, who was placed on paid administrative leave Feb. 19, may be finalized this week after the city chose to evaluate whether he could fulfill his duties as an officer despite not being able to testify at criminal trials.
"I have been waiting on a draft letter from our attorneys," Harden said. "Next week, I should be able to review a draft letter and hopefully get it finalized."
Thompson has remained a Marco Island police officer for years despite the state attorney's office conferring the do-not-subpoena status. Sometimes known as a Brady List, it identifies officers with a history of dishonesty or who can be impeached as a witness.
The Brady List moniker was created as a result of the Supreme Court's decision in the 1963 case Brady v. Maryland, which established that prosecutors were required to turn over exculpatory evidence to the defense, including any evidence that could impeach a witness.
The state attorney's office included Thompson on the do-not-subpoena list after he was found to have given inconsistent and untruthful testimony as part of a 2011 DUI case where it eventually had to drop the charges. The state attorney's office also cited Thompson's previous termination from the Collier County Sheriff's Office as part of its rationale.
Thompson remained with the department and was reassigned to investigations following the issuance of a letter in 2013 from the state attorney's office, which stated that Thompson would not be used as a witness for the prosecution in any criminal matters.
After a follow-up letter was sent to the police department in 2015, Police Chief Al Schettino returned Thompson to patrol due to the belief that Thompson would tarnish all cases he investigated.
In June 2015, an internal affairs investigation was launched into Thompson's previous actions and determined that he was violated multiple police policies. However, because the investigation spanned more than 180 days, the department could not impose any discipline due to state law.
A copy of the internal affairs report was forwarded to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, which launched its own perjury investigation. Due to the age of the case and evidentiary issues, FDLE no caused the case.
Since he was returned to patrol in 2015, records show Thompson was involved in 12 felony, 30 misdemeanor and 67 criminal traffic cases, none of which have gone to trial.
Thompson's actions warranted further scrutiny recently when a few higher profile arrests he was involved with resulted in the state attorney's office choosing not to prosecute the cases. This included one case where a Marco Island man barricaded himself in his home with a cache of weapons, which prompted SWAT to respond to the scene.
After Thompson was placed on administrative leave, Harden instructed Schettino to assess whether Thompson was able to perform the duties of the job given his inclusion on the Brady List.
In a March 18 memo to Thompson, Schettino recommended his disqualification, citing the ability to testify as an integral part of his duties.
"The Department has no control over the SAO's Brady List, but the SAO's determination has nevertheless fatally undermined your ability to perform your job," Schettino wrote. "The reason being, the SAO has stated that you cannot testify. By extension, an officer who cannot be counted on to testify also cannot be counted on to make arrests, investigate cases, or carry out any other police functions that might lead to being a witness."
While a pre-determination hearing was held on March 26, the city has held off on making a final decision on Thompson until now.
As of May 3, it would mean Thompson has been on paid leave for 74 days and counting.
From the date he was placed on the leave until now, Thompson has earned more than $13,000 in pay, according to payroll records.
Records show Thompson has been employed with the Marco Island Police Department since Nov. 13, 2006.