LMPD :: Louisville Metro Police Department

Merit board reduces suspension of officer who ticketed 7-year-old


The Louisville Metro Police Merit Board has overturned a disciplinary decision of former Police Chief Robert White, reducing the suspension of an officer who gave a 7-year-old a ticket for throwing a ball that hit the officer's truck.

Officer Cody Chapelle was suspended for 15 days in January 2011 after an internal investigation determined that he had violated three different police policies on appropriate action, courtesy and duty to report.

Chapelle appealed the decision and was able to present his case before the merit board on Wednesday. The police department had previously presented its case against Chapelle during a hearing in November, prior to White's departure to become the chief of Denver's police department.

After Wednesday's conclusion of the hearing, the four members of the merit board who heard the case voted 3 to 1 to reduce Chapelle's suspension to four days. Details of the board's findings and the reasoning behind it won't be available until formally presented at a future merit board hearing.

Mary Sharp, Chapelle's attorney, said she felt the board's decision was progress, though not exactly what her client had hoped for.

"I think he was sincerely hoping to be exonerated," Sharp said.

The charges against Chapelle stemmed from an October 2009 incident in which Chapelle was driving to a boy scouting event with his two sons and a soccer ball hit his truck. Chapelle told the board Wednesday that he watched a 7-year-old boy throw the ball at his truck intentionally, prompting him to stop and speak with the boy's parents.

Chapelle said the boy's mother was irate and defensive about her son's actions and he believed the boy would not be told he'd done something wrong so he decided to pursue criminal charges. The boy was cited for third-degree criminal mischief and did appear in juvenile court, where the charges were ultimately dismissed with a lecture from the judge.

When she testified in November, Wendy Goodman, said her son threw the ball while playing and that hitting Chapelle's truck was an accident. She said her son was traumatized by the incident, which she said included an extreme reaction by the officer.

The merit board is an appointed body of citizens and two police officers that reviews appeals to discipline handed out to police officers who are charged with violating department policy.

Chapelle continues to work for Louisville Metro Police. The decisions means he would be repaid for those days that he did not work and his record would reflect the lower suspension.