LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – A former Louisville Metro Police officer who was fired in 2015 after being charged with assaulting two students while working as a school resource officer has filed a lawsuit seeking to get his job back.
Jonathan Hardin was found not guilty by a jury last May of assaulting a 13-year-old boy at Olmsted Academy North in January 2015. A surveillance video showed Hardin pushing the teen and then putting him in a chokehold until the student loses consciousness.
And a misdemeanor case in which Hardin was accused of punching a different 13-year-old in the face that same month for cutting the lunch line was dismissed in Jefferson District Court on the condition Hardin get anger management treatment.
The lawsuit, filed earlier this month in Jefferson Circuit Court against the city and the Louisville Metro Police Merit Board, argues the board heard improper testimony during a hearing appealing his termination last fall.
Hardin argues the misdemeanor case against him was ordered expunged, or erased, and should not have been used against him during the hearing.
LMPD “erroneously” argued the department’s records were not ordered expunged by the judge “when in fact the expungement order expressly names LMPD,” according to the lawsuit.
In addition, Hardin points out that the jury acquitted him of all charges in the choking case, including assault, wanton endangerment and official misconduct.
The merit board ruled that the jury’s ruling does “not equate to exoneration” in his termination case or strip Chief Steve Conrad of his authority to fire Hardin.
But the lawsuit argues the termination was based on the criminal charges he was found not guilty of. And the suit claims the merit board improperly heard evidence from the case, including transcribed statements from witnesses.
Hardin is asking a judge to rule his termination was improper and give him back his job and backpay.
LMPD does not comment on pending litigation.
Hardin testified that he put the teen in a chokehold to gain control after the student pushed him.
The 13-year-old told police he was trying to “chest bump” Hardin but the officer was not paying attention and lost his balance, falling on the ground.
The student passed out for five to seven seconds, which doctors said during the trial was not harmful. Prosecutors argued the chokehold was against police policy.
The defense argued there is difference between violating policy and being considered a criminal.
Conrad fired Hardin on March 20, 2015, for violating several of the department’s procedures, including using unwarranted force.
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