City fires officer involved in 2009 Barmore shooting, officer’s wife issues statement
Rockford Police Officer Oda Poole has been dismissed nearly two years after he was involved in the Aug. 24, 2009, shooting death of 23-year-old Mark Anthony Barmore in the basement of the House of Grace Daycare and Preschool in downtown Rockford.
A press release issued by the City of Rockford stated: “The city determined that Officer Poole is no longer fit for duty pursuant to a fitness for duty evaluation. The parties had attempted to negotiate a dispute resolution mechanism outside of the present contract, but those discussions failed to resolve the matter. Officer Poole may seek a review of his dismissal before the Rockford Board of Fire and Police Commissioners, or before a Labor Arbitrator.
“Given the nature of the Fitness for Duty Assessment process, no further details on the matter will be released.”
Oda Poole’s wife, Robin, made the following allegations in a statement issued July 15:
“Rockford Police Chief Chet Epperson fired my husband, Officer Oda Poole, today for refusing to go along with an improper, binding unilateral proposal written outside of the scope of the collective bargaining agreement. This proposal would only benefit the City of Rockford administration and included Oda submitting to a third fitness for duty evaluation related to his duties as a Rockford Police Officer after a city-hired psychologist found Oda unfit for duty and a union-hired psychologist found Oda fit for duty. Using deceptive reasoning, Chief Epperson and Mayor Lawrence Morrissey are aiming to convince the public that my husband acted improperly while attempting to apprehend a reportedly ‘armed and dangerous’ suspect allowed into a daycare center and is unfit as a police officer for doing so.
“I have no concerns about my husband’s psychological state or fitness for duty as a police officer. However, I am exceedingly concerned about what, in my opinion, is the persistent, intentional manipulation of a proclaimed independent review, an internal investigation, and a psychological evaluation by Police Chief Chet Epperson, Mayor Lawrence Morrissey, and the city legal department. The ‘independent’ review was solicited from a company that began solely for the purpose of writing this report and had direct ties to Charles Gruber, who we understand was a paid consultant for the Rockford Police Department at that time. The company dissolved immediately after writing the report. The internal investigation failed to define what Oda did wrong, and when we asked for clarification, Police Chief Chet Epperson refused. The psychological evaluation which found Oda unfit relied heavily upon the flawed, city-manipulated reports — the second evaluation did not.
“The morning after the August 24th incident at the House of Grace daycare, the front page of the Rockford Register Star read, ‘The victim is black. The officers who killed him are white.’ From this moment, the Mark Barmore case became not a search for real answers about what happened in the basement of the church, but rather a political crusade by two politically manipulative Rockford leaders who, intending to ingratiate themselves with a small segment of the Rockford community, chose to ignore physical evidence and now find themselves fretfully trying to cover up their lack of appropriate and professional judgment.”
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