By Bill Hughes
PADUCAH, KY – The Paducah City Commission held a public disciplinary hearing for Paducah police officer Michael Redmon Monday at City Hall, and voted to dismiss him from the department for violations of policy.Redmon was suspended with pay on June 30, after an incident with a suspect the previous day at Lourdes Hospital. The formal hearing, which functions just like a court trial, is the process by which an officer, a city employee, can be terminated from the department.
On June 29, police were guarding an ICU patient who had been charged for allegedly assaulting a woman at the hospital’s Subway restaurant the day before. After doctors and police decided Joseph Cerullo should be taken to jail instead of a mental facility, an altercation occurred between Cerullo and Redmon.
Employees and a doctor in the ICU testified Monday that Cerullo had been handcuffed, but began yelling at Redmon, calling him, “a f—— pig” numerous times. They said Redmon grabbed Cerullo and pushed him up against the wall, putting one hand against the patient’s neck. More than one witness testified that Cerullo’s feet were off the floor and one said his face turned purple. Cerullo was then allegedly pushed against another wall and to the floor before a male nurse helped get the him on the bed.
Chief of Police Brandon Barnhill testified that the department performed an internal investigation and held a Chain of Command Board meeting, where peers and commanding officers determined that Redmon violated department policy and should be either disciplined and get more training, or lose his job.
On July 15, Barnhill told Redmon he could resign or he would move forward with the termination process. Redmon refused to resign.
Attorney Jeremy Ian Smith called several witnesses Monday afternoon in defense of Redmon, trying to introduce doubt into the department’s investigative process, and questioning whether a choke hold was unacceptable based on the circumstances at the scene. Officer Redmon was last, testifying in his own defense, and gave his side of the story. He said at first he thought the situation escalated because Cerullo didn’t want to be searched, but later felt the man didn’t want to go to jail.
Redmon said as Cerullo became more animated, he attempted to keep him from fleeing by putting his hand on Cerullo’s chest, and as they both moved, it slid upward, making contact with the suspect’s neck. Redman said he quickly pulled away but when Cerullo tried to move again, he was forced to pin him against another wall so he wouldn’t escape. Redmon said he didn’t intentionally choke Cerullo and he doesn’t know why the nurses said what they did. He did acknowledge that to civilians it might have appeared intentional.
Smith argued for his client, saying his client told his story well. He also said now-retired captain Jason Merrick, who didn’t apparently get along with Redmon, filed the complaint, and the investigation was poorly done and poorly documented.
Smith said the nurses’ testimony sounded bad, but the reality was that Cerullo had run from police on two different occasions, may not have even overdosed on the day he was in ICU, and was trying anything to stay out of jail. Smith said nothing escalated until Cerullo was handcuffed, and that the department is trying to avoid a civil suit.
City attorney Stacie Blankenship said Redmon was mad when he showed up at the hospital, and it’s irrelevant why Cerullo got mad and started calling him names. She said officers must keep their cool and stay under control, but Redmon lost his temper, violated department policies, and does not need to continue to be an officer, for the good of the city and its residents.
After deliberating from 5:05 – 6:15 pm, the commissioners returned from executive session. They voted unanimously to adopt a motion that would dismiss Redmon for violating a number of department policies:
1-Response to resistance- because Redmon used excessive force (a chokehold) when there was no immediate threat to his life by the suspect, who was in handcuffs.
2-Standards of conduct – by using more force than necessary to overcome resistance in the situation.
3-Standards of conduct – by exhibiting conduct unbecoming an officer that reflected discredit to the department or impaired the operation or efficiency of the department, since he failed to remain calm and allowed a situation to escalate.
Redmon had been with the department since 2003.
He was overheard telling a friend, “It’s not over,” indicating he would likely appeal. If so, it must be filed in McCracken Circuit Court within 30 days.