A police officer who lost his job after he was charged with stealing pills had previously faced an allegation involving prescription drugs, the News 4 I-Team found.
Donald Lawman was fired from the Belle Meade Police Department on Friday after he was accused of stealing prescription medication from his aunt and deceased uncle.
In 2012, Lawman was accused of an inappropriate use of a painkiller prescription while working for Metro police.
After he resigned, Lawman obtained two more jobs as a police officer.
At no point did Lawman ever lose his certification from the state.
Over the past 10 years, Lawman has jumped from the Metro Nashville Police Department to the Tennessee State University Police Department to the Belle Meade Police Department.
Now one chief wants to ensure Lawman never enforces the law again.
“I decided to hire him and I regret that now,” said Tim Eads, the chief of the Belle Meade Police Department.
Eads admits he hired Lawman even though he knew the officer had previously faced other allegations involving drugs.
“I decided maybe he deserves a second chance from what happened in the past,” Eads said.
“Do you regret that decision now?” the I-Team asked.
“Oh, of course I do,” Eads said. “It kind of shakes your faith in people.”
In 2012, Lawman faced accusations over an inappropriate use of a painkiller prescription. He was indicted by a grand jury but the charge was eventually expunged.
At the time, Metro police sent a letter to the Peace Officer Standards and Training commission in 2012 asking to revoke Lawman’s certification.
The POST commission is the regulatory agency for law enforcement in Tennessee.
But when the matter came before the POST commission, the issue was dismissed.
“Lawman resigned with the good faith belief MNPD would not seek decertification pursuant to the Agreed Order of Settlement,” the final order stated.
“He convinced me it wasn’t an issue,” Eads said.
Upon hiring him in February 2017, Eads said Lawman was a qualified officer with his certification still intact.
Now he wonders if that second chance deserved a second look.
“It makes me feel terrible,” he said. “We do our very best to be held to a higher standard. It’s our job to protect the community, not victimize them.”
Eads said he is now asking the POST commission to revoke Lawman's certification once and for all.
A spokesman for TSU said campus police hired Lawman after he cleared a background check and a screening by the POST commission.
“He was then screened by the Peace Officer Standards Training Commission, which upheld his certification at a hearing,” said TSU spokesman Lucas Johnson in a statement. “The commission would have ruled differently if there had been issues with employment for this individual.”
The I-Team reached Lawson by phone. When asked if the allegations were true, he hung up.
Lawman now faces one count of misdemeanor theft.
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