A police officer accused of choking a patient in a hospital bed has returned to duty after a brief suspension and internal investigation.
Mayor Les Fillingame said he reinstated Bay St. Louis officer John Nelson after an internal probe finished about two weeks ago. Fillingame did not discuss the findings of the investigation.
Nelson was suspended without pay for a short time during the inquiry, which was started after a man accused Nelson of choking him while he lay in a hospital bed at Hancock Medical Center on the night of Sept. 29.
At Tuesday’s City Council meeting, City Attorney Trent Favre told the council Nelson has filed for administrative relief, meaning the officer is requesting a hearing to overturn the suspension and recoup his lost wages.
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Such a request is not uncommon, but in this case, Nelson has retained attorney Don Rafferty, who recently held the city attorney position until the council ousted him over the summer and then hired Favre in August.
Favre said the situation has created a conflict of interest.
He voiced the same concern in a written response to Rafferty, but Rafferty disagreed, Favre said.
“We just can’t have a disgruntled attorney attacking us every time there’s an employee with a complaint,” Councilman Joey Boudin said.
No date has been set yet for Nelson’s administrative hearing.