Norman Police Officer Waits to Return to Duty

Tuesday, June 2nd 2009, 6:16 pm
By: News 9

By Gan Matthews, NEWS 9

NORMAN, Oklahoma -- A Norman police officer is wondering when he's going to be restored to duty, if ever. And many of his fellow officers say they have no confidence in their police chief.

In April an arbitrator ruled that Norman Police Officer John Terry had been fired without due process. More than a month has gone by, and Terry has still not been restored to duty. That's because the City of Norman is appealing the arbitrator's ruling.

Terry was fired following an incident last summer when he shot a naked man who was dragging him with his car. Terry believed he had acted properly and thought the arbitrator's ruling had settled the matter.

"Five weeks ago, you know, I had said my family and I were overjoyed we had won that decision, and then five weeks later with the way things have turned out, it's an extreme disappointment for my entire family and I," Terry said.

But the City of Norman thinks the arbitrator was wrong and didn't really deal with the merits of the case. Meanwhile, the Fraternal Order of Police--which is supporting Terry--recently asked Norman officers if they had confidence in Chief Phil Cotten.

"We had probably, roughly 38 members I believe that didn't turn in ballots," Norman FOP President Joel Fromby said. "We had 49 people that voted no confidence against the chief, and we had 48 that voted confidence against the chief.

Chief Cotten said the vote is "not a big deal" with the vote being "basically 50-50." As for the John Terry matter, Cotten says we'll "have to let it play out."

While the city appeals the arbitrator's ruling, John Terry can count on the backing of the Norman Fraternal Order of Police. On its Web site, the FOP has posted an on-line petition for Norman citizens to sign if they think officer Terry should be back on the force.

The man officer Terry shot last summer--Sang Van Nguyen survived the shooting and is scheduled to have a trial later this month on a charge of assault and battery with a deadly weapon.