Orange cop suspended, facing federal investigation in shooting death of U.S. Marine hero
Editor's Note: The Examiner has obtained a copy of the 38-page document filed by Orange Police Chief Sam Kittrell outlining the findings of his internal investigation into the shooting death of James Whitehead, a decorated U.S. Marine by off-duty police captain Robert Arnold, following a verbal disturbance. Kittrell's report has been reprinted in its entirety in order to provide readers with an accurate sense of what occurred on the day the unarmed man was killed. Robert Arnold, a captain with the city of Orange Police Department, who shot and killed a decorated U.S. Marine during an verbal disturbance at the O'Reilly Auto Parts store in July, has been indefinitely suspended and is now facing a federal civil rights investigation, The Examiner has confirmed. Orange Police Chief Sam Kittrell filed a 38-page document outlining the findings of his internal investigation into the shooting and concluded that Arnold violated a number of departmental policies and procedures, including that by Arnold's "failure to take appropriate actions you (Arnold) placed yourself and others in jeopardy and as such your actions reflected unfavorably on you as a professional police officer." Arnold also used a weapon that was neither registered with the department nor that was used to qualify with in firearms proficiency, as well as, using deadly force with a weapon that he was not authorized or permitted to carry, according to Kittrell's internal investigation. The news of the indefinite suspension, which has the effect of termination, but under the Texas Local Government Code, police officers and fire fighters facing indefinite suspension have the right to file an appeal within 10 days. According to Local Government Code Section 143.120, "Except as provided by Section 143.1015(g), if a suspended fire fighter or police officer appeals an indefinite suspension to the (civil service) commission, the commission shall hold a hearing and render a decision in writing within 30 days after the date it receives notice of appeal (b) In a hearing conducted under this section, the department head is restricted to the department head's original written statement and charges, which may not be amended. (c) In its decision, the commission shall state whether the suspended fire fighter or police officer is: (1) permanently dismissed from the fire or police department; (2) temporarily suspended from the department; or (3) restored to the person's former position or status in the department's classified service." Additionally, Robert Hobbs, Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Texas, confirmed for The Examiner that Arnold's case had been referred to the U.S. Department of Justice's Civil Rights Division in Washington D.C. for investigation. "The fact is that an investigation would be triggered in this sort of instance, almost routinely," Hobbs said. "We have made the proper referrals to the civil rights division in Washington D.C. and we will be overseeing the matter. "We have been presented what purports to be a copy of the (Texas) Ranger's file and now the FBI will conduct an investigation and we will see where it goes." Hobbs said the process of a federal civil rights investigation is not fast-moving but it is very thorough.