MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A former Memphis Police officer pleaded guilty to reckless endangerment with a deadly weapon and is sentenced to one year of diversion.
In January 2019, body camera footage captured police arresting Drew Thomas for allegedly vandalizing a store on Airways that he was banned from.
Thomas’ family told WREG Investigators that he had mental issues with dozens of arrests and emergency commitments.
That night, MPD sent Officer William Skelton to the scene because he was trained to handle people with mental health issues. He had also dealt with Thomas earlier.
Skelton put Thomas into handcuffs and into the squad car.
Skelton told Internal Affairs he sprayed pepper foam four times, restrained Thomas’ legs and shut the door. He also refused to crack a window for five minutes and 55 seconds, despite that being against department policy.
The MPD director at the time called it unacceptable.
Skelton resigned before the administrative hearing, but MPD never referred the case to the DA’s office. When the incident made headlines, the former DA Amy Weirich had a special team look at the case.
In November 2020, a grand jury indicted Skelton on an official oppression charge. Two years later, he entered a guilty plea on the lesser charge of reckless endangerment with a weapon.
Monday, he was sentenced, getting a year of diversion. This means if he stays out of trouble and follows certain conditions, he can get his charge expunged or wiped from his record.
This isn’t the first time this has happened when it comes to a former officer facing criminal charges. Another former officer pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of statutory rape and can request the charge be expunged next summer.
A former Lieutenant pleaded guilty to official misconduct and got the charge wiped last year after completing diversion. This also prevented the public from accessing the state’s criminal case file to see what evidence was collected.
State law requires the public to wait a year before accessing it, but in the past, the case was expunged before the records could be made available.
WREG will keep watch to see what happens in Skelton’s case. His diversion is set to end a year from now.
We reached out to the DA’s office for a comment and to learn if the possibility Skelton’s criminal case file could be kept secret.
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