Recently reinstated Marco Island police officer finds himself back under investigation
A Marco Island police officer who was reinstated through arbitration this month is back under investigation.
While the city of Marco Island cannot confirm the existence of an investigation into Tige Thompson, an exemption cited by the city Wednesday night in response to a Naples Daily News records request pertaining to communications about him sheds light on the complaint.
The specific statute cited by Capt. Dave Baer, Ch. 112.533 (2)(a), prevents the release of records until an investigation "ceases to be active" or written notice has been given that the investigation is closed.
It's unknown what the specific charges are against Thompson.
Thompson was reinstated on May 6, nearly one year after being terminated by the city because it deemed he could not fulfill the duties of a police officer.
Its decision was based on Thompson being on a Brady List, which some state attorney's offices use to ban officers from testifying or to keep track of officers whose testimony could be impeached on the witness stand.
The state attorney's office has maintained for years that it would not call Thompson as a witness over credibility concerns that stretch back to a DUI case in which he was accused of being untruthful.
While the allegations of untruthfulness resulted in the state attorney's office dropping the case, no investigation was launched into the incident until 2014 when Don Hunter was chief of police.
Even then, the city could not complete the investigation promptly.
After then-Police Chief Al Schettino took the reins of the department, he assigned a new investigator to the case but not without blunders.
When the investigation was completed, the department could not punish Thompson because the 180-day window to discipline him had expired. Besides the timing gaffe, the investigation itself was not fair as Thompson was not afforded an opportunity to make a statement or present evidence in his defense.
In the meantime, Schettino reassigned Thompson from the investigations division back to road patrol, where he remained for years until his termination.
Although Schettino felt Thompson's credibility issues would tarnish investigations if he had remained in his previous role, the reassignment proved to be disastrous as the vast majority of the cases he was involved with not being prosecuted.
This included an incident in December 2018 where a man was arrested on multiple felony charges after barricading himself in his home with more than 20 weapons and thousands of rounds of ammunition.
Thompson's continued employment with the department for years despite the concerns from the state attorney's office proved to be his saving grace during the arbitration process.
Arbitrator Gerard Fowler stated that Thompson had been serving as a police officer and could continue to do so in the future. Placement on a Brady List also does not equate to disqualification from employment.
While Thompson was reinstated three weeks ago, the city had stalled bringing him back to work, including providing him with conditional terms of employment.
It also had not determined yet what his duties would be given that the state attorney's office declined to change its position on calling him a witness.
Connect with reporter Devan Patel: @DevanJPatel (Twitter) or email@example.com