Fired New London Officer Will Get Job Back

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    NEWSLETTERS

    The New London police officer who was fired after shooting an unarmed suspect will get his job back under a decision from the state labor board. Thomas Northup speaks exclusively to NBC Connecticut about the ruling. (Published Friday, Nov 1, 2013)

    A New London police officer who was fired after shooting an unarmed suspect will be getting his job back.

    The Connecticut Board of Mediation and Arbitration ruled that Thomas Northup was wrongly fired from his position and that he should be reinstated to the force, with back pay and legal fees paid by the city.

    "I was obviously excited to move forward, looking forward to getting back to work and doing what I love," said Thomas Northup, who spoke exclusively to NBC Connecticut about the ruling.

    Northup was fired in March 2012, seven months after he fired four shots at Curtis Cunningham, the New Haven man who crashed a stolen ice truck at the intersection of Bank Street and Jefferson Avenue.

    Northup feared Cunningham was reaching for a gun, but Cunningham was unarmed and the shots left him paralyzed.

    The city claimed Northup's actions violated its excessive force policy; however, the labor board found otherwise, saying the city's decision to terminate the officer was made with "ignorance" and "without just cause."

    Prosecutors cleared Northup of criminal wrongdoing.

    Meanwhile, Cunningham has filed a civil lawsuit against Northup and the city.

    "It's very easy to sit down and go over something repeatedly once it's happened and you have the ability and when you're the individual that's standing there, you just have milliseconds to decide and it's not easy," said Northup.

    New London Mayor Daryl Finizio did not respond to a request for comment.

    The city has announced plans to appeal the ruling.

    Northup is the third police officer terminated by the city to have his or her job reinstated by the labor board, according to the police union.

    City council member Adam Sprecace questions whether the cash-strapped city can afford an appeal in the Northup case.

    "It does appear the administration has acted hastily," said Sprecace. "It seems to me that given the history of the mayor's decisions over the past two years that many of them have been made hastily and have been shown to be not in his favor."

    For now, Northup is waiting to find out when he'll return to work.

    "The men and women, they're really great people. They do a great job and I'm looking forward to getting back and doing it with them," said Northup. "I truly felt as though I would persevere."

    Cunningham has a long criminal record. He pleaded guilty to stealing that ice truck and was sentenced to three months in prison, according to court records.