Fort Pierce Police Chief Diane Hobley-Burney answers what message firing the two officers sends to the Police Department and the community.
LAURIE K. BLANDFORD/TCPALM
FORT PIERCE — The two Fort Pierce police officers who were fired this week are trying to return to the Police Department, according to police officials and a news release.
Ralph Keith Holmes, a former officer, has filed an appeal regarding his termination that was effective Monday, according to a Thursday news release from the Fort Pierce Police Officers Association, the local union chapter of the International Union of Police Associations.
Brian MacNaught, a former sergeant, also has appealed his firing, said Ed Cunningham, public information officer for the Police Department.
Holmes and MacNaught were fired after a seven-month investigation found they made a series of tactical errors that created a dangerous situation during a traffic stop April 23, 2016, in which Demarcus Semer, 21, was fatally shot, said police Chief Diane Hobley-Burney.
According to the investigation, Holmes violated 12 department policies: three counts of failure to keep his video system operating, three counts of code of conduct, two counts of insubordination, two counts of neglect of duty, unauthorized firearm and failure to follow policy. MacNaught violated three department policies: insubordination, neglect of duty and code of conduct.
The news release Thursday from the Fort Pierce Police Officers Association stated the following:
The Fort Pierce Police Officers Association’s members were stunned and saddened by the firing of Officer Holmes after being cleared of any wrongdoing by the Saint Lucie County Sheriff’s Office, the State Attorney’s Office, and by a Grand Jury of his peers. The Fort Pierce Police Officer’s Association and many community leaders stand behind Officer Holmes. We believe this termination was politically motivated and unjust.
The allegations against Officer Holmes are improper and inaccurate, and do not overshadow the amount of hard work and dedication Officer Holmes has given to the citizens of Fort Pierce. From risking his life as a SWAT Team member, saving the lives of five drowning teens, and countless selfless acts, Officer Holmes’ termination is a great loss to the citizens of Fort Pierce.
Our legal team has already filed an appeal of this termination, and are dedicated to seeing his return. We appreciate all of the community’s support given to Officer Holmes during this troubling time.
The International Union of Police Associations represents officers, including Holmes, and the Police Benevolent Association represents sergeants, including MacNaught, Cunningham said.