Memphis Mayor A C Wharton has vowed he will get to the bottom of why police officer Terrence Shaw, who is under investigation by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation in the September shooting death of a teenager, is back on the job.
Officer Shaw returned on Wednesday to desk duty. He had been on paid leave after the shooting death of Justin Thompson, 15, on Sept. 24.
MORE: MPD officer back on job after deadly shooting
Mayor Wharton caught by surprise by a decision made by the police department's deputy director to allow Shaw to come back to work, behind a desk. He won't be carrying a gun or be able to make arrests, but he's back on duty in what's called "non-enforcement" status.
Mayor Wharton is concerned about the public perception of Officer Shaw's return while he is still the subject of an ongoing state investigation into a teenager's shooting.
Shaw, who previously was cleared of any wrongdoing in the 2009 shooting death of a Frayser man, has been at the center of an investigation into Thompson's death.
At the time Shaw was off-duty and later alleged Thompson attempted to rob him before Shaw shot the teen. A day later, Mr. Wharton called in the TBI to investigate the shooting and announced the entire MPD operation was going to be scrutinized from top to bottom.
Though an MPD internal investigation cleared Officer Shaw of the Thompson shooting, a spokesperson for the TBI told FOX13 News a few weeks ago their investigation of the incident might not be completed until early next year.
Mayor Wharton said it's urgent that investigation now be expedited.
"I'm hoping and making calls today to get that investigation expedited through Nashville and see how long that's going to take," he said. "I will look into the circumstances of his return. Let me make it clear to you: I always shoot straight. I didn't know he was going to returned. I'm not going to express any opinion as to whether he should been returned or not. But, I am going to look into that."
Some city council members are also asking if the Bluff City needs to take a look at how it handles city employees during investigations.
"I have mixed emotions," said Councilman Myron Lowery. "I don't want to second guess our police director, but this is a highly volatile case and his return to work, even though it's a desk job, may be premature."
Michael Williams, president of the Memphis Police Association, said residents should not rush to judgement as it's standard procedure for officers to be assigned to non-enforcement jobs when they are under investigation.
"I know the community is very concerned because there was a 15-year-old that was shot in that incident," Williams said. "However once all the facts are in, that's when I think we should definitely make a decision or determination whether this individual is innocent or guilty."
So far no criminal charges have been filed against Officer Shaw.
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