A white police officer who pulled out his gun during a heated confrontation with a black college student picking up trash outside his Colorado dorm is resigning — and will continue to collect his paycheck for the next eight months, city officials said.
The officer, John Smyly, was identified Thursday as the 14-year department veteran seen in a 16-minute video posted to YouTube after confronting Zayd Atkinson outside a Naropa University dorm in Boulder on March 1, the Boulder Daily Camera reports.
Smyly, who had been on paid leave since the tense encounter, was found in violation of two department policies but resigned his post before the end of the city’s disciplinary process.
As part of an agreement, he’ll remain an employee through February and earn roughly $69,000 in salary for unused holiday and sick time, officials said.
“The exchange between Officer Smyly and Mr. Atkinson does not represent the professionalism of the Boulder Police Department nor the community Boulder desires to be,” City Attorney Tom Carr said in a statement to the newspaper. “While we have no proof racial bias was a motivating factor, the internal affairs investigation resulted in sustained violations of police policies.”
Smyly violated police authority and public trust and conduct, according to the review process that would’ve likely ended in his suspension or termination had he not already resigned from the department, police told the newspaper.
Smyly was conducting extra patrols due to recent crime in the area when he encountered Atkinson with an “unknown object in his left hand,” according to a summary of the probe released by Boulder police Chief Greg Testa.
Video shows Smyly approaching Atkinson in a partially enclosed patio area behind a “private property sign,” prompting the officer to ask if the man had a right to be there. Atkinson, who was holding a trash picker at the time, then told Smyly that he both lived and worked there before giving the officer his ID card.
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SOURCE: New York Post, Joshua Rhett Miller