Despite pleading guilty in November to assaulting a suspect after telling another cop to shut off her body camera, a Tennessee police officer continues to be on paid administrative leave – nearly two months after she was placed on probation following her guilty plea.
But Westmoreland police officer Amanda Wolfe is not exactly sitting at home collecting a paycheck. Instead, she is working for the city’s animal control division which is run by the Westmoreland Police Department.
According to WSMV, Westmoreland’s City Council is in charge of the process of hiring and firing of city employees and have not met since Wolfe’s guilty plea in November.
Westmoreland Mayor Jerry Kirkman and Police Chief Ray Amalfitano determined she should be doing some type of work if she is getting paid which was why she was allowed to work for animal control. The next council meeting is February 6 so she has another two weeks of collecting a tax-funded paycheck after pleading guilty to beating a taxpayer.
Wolfe has been on paid administrative leave since August 9 when they began investigating her after another cop, Elizabeth Lehner, blew the whistle.
The incident took place on August 7 after Wolfe performed a traffic stop in which Marley Colburn, a passenger, had active warrants. After questions arose about Colburn’s birthday, Colburn fled on foot.
After a brief foot chase, Colburn laid on the ground complying to Wolfe’s verbal commands. After cuffing Colburn, Wolfe turned to Lehner and told her to turn off her body camera.
“I could tell she said, ‘Turn your body camera off.’ You can’t hear it. You can see her mouthing it,” Lehner told investigators who is a part-time cop and probably had less authority than Wolfe.
“Never crossed my mind what she would do next.”
According to investigation reports, it is after Lehner turned off her camera when Wolfe decided to beat Colburn numerous times with a closed fist.
“Like over and over and over – and she would pause, and then over and over,” Lehner said.
Unsettled with how the situation happened, Lehner notified Chief Amalfitano. After reviewing Lehner’s claim, Amalfitano consulted with the Mayor Kirkman. Amalfitano then alerted district attorney Ray Whitley, who requested Tennessee Bureau of Investigation to open an investigation.
“This man did nothing wrong other than run,” Lehner told investigators. Not once did he show us aggression. I was pretty much angry the rest of the night.”
Wolfe told investigators she was “blindsided” by the investigation, believing her actions to be justified because she claimed to see Colburn fumbling with his pockets and trying to get up as she was kneeling into him.
Wolfe turned herself in on August 27 after the investigation concluded with charges being brought against her. The decision to expose the actions of another officer was met with praises from district attorney Whitley.
“That’s what we would hope all of our officers would do: do the right thing,”
Since Wolfe’s charge is a misdemeanor, she was eligible and applied for diversion, which means there is a possibility that the charge could be removed from her record. And the body cam video has not been made public either but we are working on obtaining that.
“She was beating me in the back – back of the head – shoulders and stuff,” Colburn told investigators. “Just waylaying out. Like I pissed her off. Just going to town on me.”
Carlos Miller contributed to this report.