A battery charge against a former Covington police officer whose arrest helped lead to the firing of the chief were dropped Friday, nearly two years after he was indicted.
Anthony Adams was set to go to trial Friday on a misdemeanor simple battery charge connected to an incident that happened in the Covington Police Department headquarters on Nov. 20, 2012.
That night, Adams and another officer, Nicholas Harper, were near the holding cells where George Davis, a battery and shoplifting suspect, was being held. The cells are essentially small cages with only enough room for a person to stand.
After nearly an hour in the cell, Davis told officers he had to go to the bathroom. Adams entered the cell to help the handcuffed Davis sit down, according to Adams’ attorney, Cameron Mary.
A scuffle ensued, and Adams was bitten on the hand. Harper used a stun gun on Davis three times in the next 20 minutes.
Both officers were later arrested and booked on counts of simple battery and malfeasance in office. Neither was prosecuted on the felony malfeasance charge. But Harper was convicted in June on the simple battery count and sentenced to 10 days in jail.
Since then, prosecutors have reviewed the videotape from inside the cell and studied some additional evidence that Adams provided, Mary said.
“They concluded he hadn’t committed the crime,” he said.
The District Attorney’s Office did not respond to a request for comment about the decision to drop the charges.
Mary said Adams is now working in a family business and has no interest in getting his job back.
“He’s extremely happy to close that chapter of his life,” he said.
The arrests of Harper and Adams spelled the end for former Covington Police Chief Richard Palmisano. Palmisano was already on rocky terms with Mayor Mike Cooper, who was in his first term and looking to reform the Police Department, which had a poor reputation and had been the subject of previous complaints about excessive force.
“It was the incident that made me feel once and for all that changes had to be made,” Cooper said Friday.
Cooper eventually fired Palmisano and replaced him, months later, with Tim Lentz, a retired former chief deputy of the St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s Office.
Lentz said Friday that what Harper and Adams did was a symptom of a cultural problem within the department, a culture he has tried to change by turning over about a third of the force, rewriting the policy manual and making some cosmetic changes, such as taking the tint off department vehicles’ windows.
Lentz said he had spoken to the DA’s Office about Adams’ case and that he was not surprised by the decision to drop the charge against him.
“I told them I would support them in whatever direction they decided to go,” he said.
Follow Faimon A. Roberts III on Twitter, @faimon.