Former Memphis Police officer facing criminal charges for 2019 arrest

Investigations

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A former Memphis police officer is facing criminal charges after spraying pepper foam at a handcuffed man and leaving him a squad car with the windows rolled up.

Court records show William Skelton was indicted by a grand jury last November. He was arrested in December and remains free on bond Wednesday morning.

A WREG collaborative investigation with the University of Memphis Institute for Public Service Reporting and The Daily Memphian first reported on the incident last October.

Skelton was accused of handcuffing Drew Thomas, then spraying him with pepper foam and leaving him in a squad car with the windows rolled up.

Police body cameras captured the January 2019 incident that happened at a gas station a few miles from the airport. MPD said Skelton — as well as two other officers at the gas station that night — were on the Crisis Intervention Team.

Two officers received three-day suspensions for their actions that night. Skelton was charged with official oppression. He has another court date scheduled for May 19.

Skelton resigned before his administrative hearing and in November, and a grand jury indicted him for official oppression. He was booked in December and quickly released on his own recognizance.

We went to his home for his side of the story, but no one came to the door.

Skelton’s case was reviewed by a special team District Attorney Amy Weirich created, which examines complaints against officers to see if there was any criminal wrongdoing.

MPD never referred Skelton’s case to the district attorney’s office,  but now that will change. A newly-created MPD policy requires cases be turned over to the DA when internal investigators determine an officer used excessive force.

This was a case we brought to you through a partnership with the University of Memphis Institute for Public Service Reporting and The Daily Memphian to uncover excessive force incidents and help identify possible solutions.

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