FORT MYERS, Fla.- A Fort Myers Police officer who was fired for using excessive force, is getting his job back. It was all caught on camera, but an arbitrator says the officer was doing his job during this arrest.
Officer Trevor Lehman will return to duty at the Fort Myers Police Department.
He'll be paid for the time lost, minus a 40 hour suspension for cursing during that arrest, which is a policy violation.
It was more than a year ago when an arrest that was caught on camera, stripped Lehman's badge. He was formally fired in July. Dash cam video from the night in February 2013 shows Lehman hitting this suspect multiple times. Lehman and other officers were struggling to get the known criminal into handcuffs.
Chief Doug Baker called it excessive force and fired Lehman, but he appealed the decision. In January, Lehman told his side of the story to an arbitrator. He said he was not trying to hurt the suspect, but didn't know if he was armed and felt unsafe. Fellow officers have stood by Lehman throughout the process.
His dad as his biggest supporter. He is a former Fort Myers Police Officer himself.
Lehman says he was shocked and devastated when he lost his job, but he remained confident that he could fight and get his job back. He says it was a learning experience but would not change that night. "You just know you have a job to do and you and your partner need to go home safe, I don't want to cause injury to someone, that's not why I became a cop," he says.
He says this is a huge weight of his shoulders and he can't wait to get back to work. "I couldn't even dream of anything better than the support I've been given," he says. He says he's humbled to get his job back.
The department must put him back on the force by July 1st.
The man Trevor Lehman was trying to arrest that night, 28-year-old Chaylon McClary, has been arrested at least twice since that incident. Most recently, he was arrested earlier this month for drug charges and resisting arrest.
"The chief fired him unjustly. No officer should come to work and be in fear of bring fired for doing their job," said Matt Sellers with the Florida Police Benevolent Association.
"He was fully exonerated for excessive use of force. The charge that he was chraged with," said Sellers.