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Once-fired Gary cop in trouble again

Updated: September 24, 2012 6:25AM



GARY — A year after the long-fought victory that returned Lindal Hairston to the Gary Police Department, he again faces disciplinary action that could cost him an unpaid suspension and loss of rank.

Hairston, of Hobart, was fired in February 2003 after a Lake Station teen complained Hairston threatened him at gunpoint during an off-duty confrontation that ended at the Lake Station Police Department.

The city settled a lawsuit Hairston filed challenging the dismissal by returning him to duty last year and agreeing to award him the rank of sergeant, even though he left as a patrolman.

“I hope he comports himself in the fine tradition of the Gary Police Department,” Corporation Counsel Susan Severtson said last year of the out-of-court settlement.

He graduated from the police academy for the second time in April 2010.

Then in January, a Gary businessman complained Hairston stopped his car early Dec. 22 outside his Glen Park business, threatened him and struck him more than once.

Russell Thomas, 50, who owns Prestige night club on Broadway, claims Hairston struck him in the head after handcuffing him, then swore at him and threatened him as he took him to the police station.

A verified complaint submitted to the Gary Police Civil Service Commission charges Hairston with violating seven commission rules, one city ordinance and one state law.

Charges include willful mistreatment, making a false report, mishandling evidence, neglect of duty and failure to comply with a proper order from a superior officer.

The commission accepted
the complaint at its meeting
Thursday and will assign a hearing officer to preside over the disciplinary matter and make a recommendation on what action the board should take.

In the prior matter, the hearing officer recommended Hairston be suspended without pay for 60 days, which he appealed. After the board reviewed the case, it voted to terminate him.

Officers on promotional lists waiting for their rank have attended numerous commission meetings seeking an explanation on how Hairston obtained a sergeant’s rank without taking tests and following other steps prescribed in the rules.

The board’s only explanation has been is that it is abiding a court order, although one has not been produced.

Thomas was charged in August with criminal recklessness after a customer accused him of assaulting him with pepper spray and firing a gun in the air while Thomas was insisting the man leave his club.

Thomas had a valid gun permit when he was arrested both times.

Reach Lori Caldwell at 648-3258



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