No Decision Made After Testimony In Fired Officer's Appeal
Posted September 21, 2006
RALEIGH, N.C. — A former Raleigh police officer who was dismissed from the force after she was involved in a deadly shooting last year said Thursday that she fired in self-defense.
Michelle Peele appealed her firing to a seven-member civil service commission panel, which began hearing testimony in the case Thursday at a Raleigh law office. The commission adjourned late Thursday after Peele's testimony without rendering a decision.
Peele was working as an off-duty security guard at Rosa Linda's Mexican Restaurant on New Bern Avenue on Aug. 28, 2005, when a man tried to steal her personal car. Peele shot 43-year-old Nyles Arrington, who lost control of the car and crashed.
Arrington died a short time later of his injuries.
The State Bureau of Investigation reviewed the case. The Wake County District Attorney took the case to a grand jury, but it declined to indict Peele on criminal charges. The Raleigh Police Department fired her in January, citing a violation of police policy.
The department's policy states an officer can use deadly force only when the officer or another person's life is in imminent danger.
Peele has maintained Arrington was trying to run her over when she shot him. She and friend Lindsay Banning, who was with her at the time of the shooting, testified Thursday the car was coming at them when Peele fired.
"Did you do the best you could under the circumstances?" a lawyer asked Peele during the hearing.
"At the time, I believe I did, yes," she responded.
The city is trying to prove the women were not in danger of being hit. Arrington's widow also is expected to testify for the city.
"After I fired, he passed by me. He wasn't passing by me prior to the shot going off. He was attempting to go in that direction when he saw the barrel pointing at him," Peele testified, adding that she would do the same thing again under the same circumstances.
"If I were in harm's way and a third party was also on harm's way, I would have to do the same thing. I wouldn't want to do the same thing, but I would have to," she said.
"She should have never been denied her job in the first place," said John Midgette, of the Police Benevolent Association, which is backing Peele in her appeal. "Raleigh has had similar instances where officers fired at vehicles -- they have not lost their jobs."
The chairman of the commission said it wasn't practical to continue Thursday's hearing because at least eight hours of testimony remains. The chairman said he isn't free to meet again until Nov. 15, but the other commissioners could meet before then without him.