Black community activists reacted with outrage on Wednesday over the City of Rockford’s ruling on a wrongful termination settlement it reached with a police officer.
On Monday, city council members approved a $700,000 in Workman’s Compensation settlement with Oda Poole, which allows him to retire with his full pension benefits.
Poole was the police officer involved in the shooting death of Mark Barmore in 2009. Barmore fled from police and into the daycare at Kingdom Authority Church, where he was killed in an altercation with the officer. Poole has not been on patrol since.
Some black community activists in the Rockford area, including pastor Melvin Brown of the Kingdom Authority Church where the deadly shooting place, spoke against the decision on Wednesday.
They note that both church members and children at the daycare who witnessed the shooting were awarded more than $300,000 in a civil suit finding the city liable. Poole will receive more than twice that.
“This officer [is] not truly being held accountable,” said activist Yahcolyah Muhammad. “He may not return to the force, [but] it seems like his parachute is comfortable and wide.”
Poole was fired two years after the shooting, despite the Illinois State’s Attorney’s Office ruling that the shooting was justified.
In 2011, an union arbitrator ordered that Poole be reinstated, ruling that he was wrongfully terminated. The settlement also prevents Poole from patrolling the streets ever again. He’ll be allowed to retire from the police department in good standing.
The city also paid out $1 million to settle a civil lawsuit with Barmore’s family. At the time, city leaders said the payment wasn’t an admission of guilt, but rather a way to avoid any public outrage.