Suspension overturned for officer in hair-pulling incident

Sgt. Schilling hearing
Sgt. Schilling hearing

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - The suspension of a Baton Rouge Police Dept. has been overturned after a hearing with the Municipal Police and Fire Civil Service Board.

"We have a 5-0 vote in favor of overturning the 15-day suspension," said Board Chair Sgt. Bryan Taylor.

Nearly three hours of sworn testimony and six witnesses later, the Civil Service Board ruled in favor of Sgt. Robert (bobby) Schilling.
The 19-year veteran of the BRPD was caught on tape the night of September 10th, 2011 by an amateur videographer on Nicholson Drive.
In the video, Schilling is seen grabbing a woman, Melinda Morris, out of a ditch by her hair.  

"The conduct that was exhibited by Sgt. Shilling was egregious and warranted disciplinary measures," said BRPD Chief Dewayne White.

Which is why Chief White suspended Schilling last year in December for 15 days without pay for command of temper and conduct unbecoming of an officer.  

"You're saying he didn't exercise emotional control?" asked Schilling's attorney Charlie Dirks.
"Yes," said Chief White.
"When did he not exercise emotional control?" asked Dirks.
"When he re-engaged and took custody of Ms. Morris by the hair of the head and yanked her out of the ditch," said Chief White.

In Sgt. Schilling's dash cam video, Dirks said Morris is seen hitting the Sgt. before falling in the ditch.

"At no point in time, did I witness him put his hands on her until she went to active aggression," said Cpl. Myron Daniel, a BRPD tactical officer.

"When she's down in the ditch, does Sgt. Schilling immediately grab her hair to pull her out or does he try to do something else?" asked Dirks.
"No, it's pretty obvious in the video, he tried to grab her wrists and she yanked it back," said Det. Dustin Conde.

Plus, Dirks said Schilling gave the woman verbal warning to get out of the ditch and then finally resorted to pulling her by her hair, his point being Schilling did not lose his temper.

As for his unbecoming conduct...

"Perception to a person who may not have the training may think that it's excessive, but it's not.  As far as the probability of injury (by pulling her by her hair), it's almost none.  It hurts for a second but once it stops, the pain is over," said Daniel.

"He did not ask her to come up and start swinging on him so she brought this on herself.  She wouldn't have been there in the first place, none of this would have happened. If she would have acted like a lady, none of this would have happened," said Sgt. Taylor.

With that, the board said both charges were unfounded and overturned Schilling's suspension.  Schilling will now get back his pay for those 15 days he was suspended as well as his seniority within the department.

Copyright 2012 WAFB. All rights reserved.