Local News

Panel Votes Against Reinstating Ex-Police Officer

Posted November 16, 2006 9:38 a.m. EST

— After a full day of testimony Thursday, the Raleigh Civil Service Commission voted 5-1 against reinstating a former Raleigh police officer who was fired after she shot and killed a man who was trying to steal her personal car.

Michelle Peele was working off-duty security at a New Bern Avenue restaurant in August 2005 when a man tried to steal her personal vehicle. She said the man, later identified as Nyles Arrington, drove the car at her and a friend, so she fired her weapon and killed him.

Peele was not indicted in connection with the shooting, but the Raleigh Police Department fired her in January, claiming she had violated the department's policy on deadly force.

The police department's policy on deadly force, established in 2003, prohibits officers from firing into a moving vehicle unless they are in imminent danger. The fear is that shooting a driver will cause him to lose control of the car and put others at risk.

"We have to know where people are and why we're firing," Police Chief Jane Perlov said Thursday, defending her decision to fire Peele. "We're taking a life. Speculation doesn't enter into this."

"The City of Raleigh has stated that officers' blood is worth less than every other citizen in this country. it's disgusting and it's wrong," said Police Benevolent Association spokesman John Midgette.

Witnesses testified that Peele and her friend, Lindsay Banning, were not in harm's way during the incident. Perlov said that when Peele called for help, she never mentioned that she feared for her life.

"You would shout, 'He tried to kill me … someone just tried to run me over … pursue him, he's going down New Bern Avenue,'" Perlov said. "That's not what happened. She chased him on foot."

Peele said she expected the commission's decision and that she plans to take her case to Wake County Superior Court.

Arrington's widow, Christi Arrington, was pleased with the outcome.

"I feel good. I feel it was a good decision and I'm happy," she said after the hearing.

At the end of testimony Thursday, Poole gave a heartfelt apology to Arrington's family, saying she did not want to take a life that night but that she wanted to go home to her child and that she had to defend herself.

"I would never trade a human life for another life," Peele said.