HOBART — A police officer who faced a 60-day suspension over a drunken brawl with two fellow officers said he felt “vindicated” Wednesday after the Board of Works and Public Safety sided with him and announced he can return to work once medically cleared.
Officer Adam Ahmad had requested the hearing before the board after Hobart Police Chief Richard Zormier recommended Ahmad and officers Andrew and Adrian Bustos, who are brothers, each receive a 60-day unpaid suspension for their actions while off duty during a June 3 party after a baby shower for Andrew Bustos’ wife.
The Board of Works and Public Safety wrapped up a two-day hearing Friday without reaching a decision, but issued a final order on Wednesday, saying there is no reliable evidence that Ahmad “punched or struck anyone” during the brawl.
The Bustoses each accepted the recommended suspensions last month. Ahmad denied the allegations and requested a hearing.
“I feel vindicated and I am happy with the conclusion,” Ahmad said after Wednesday's hearing. “I’m excited to go back to serving my community.”
Ahmad testified Friday he did not pull a man by his hair from a car or instigate fights with other officers. Ahmad said he attempted to break up several fights before Adrian Bustos punched him multiple times in the face and Andrew Bustos knocked him out with a punch and kicked him in the face while he was down.
“I tried to do the right thing and shouldn’t be punished because my brother officers did the wrong thing,” Ahmad said last week after the hearing.
City Attorney Anthony DeBonis Jr., the administrative hearing officer, said the board concluded Wednesday that Ahmad “did not engage in acts of physical violence or fighting other than to engage in self-defense and the evidence is insufficient to warrant a suspension, much less a warrant of 60 days.”
On Wednesday, Ahmad’s attorney, Chris Cooper — who is also a former police officer — said the evidence shows Ahmad was trying to bring order to a chaotic situation. He called the actions by the Bustoses, particularly Andrew, who allegedly kicked Ahmad when he was unconscious, “cowardly.”
He argued the two officers, based on their actions in this case, are unfit to remain on the force.
Zormier said he asked Griffith police to conduct an independent investigation into the brawl and the results revealed a lot of “he said, she said.”
After Wednesday’s order was issued, Zormier said he accepts the board’s decision. Unlike Cooper, Zormier said the Bustoses are fit to remain on Hobart’s police force.
“We can’t let one incident tarnish their careers,” Zormier said.
Ahmad testified Friday he spent six hours in the emergency room. His eye now sits differently in the socket, which may require surgery to prevent deterioration of his eyesight if the bone doesn’t heal properly. He’s at risk for retinal detachment because of the extent of his injuries, he said.
He had four chipped teeth, including one that was sheared off. A dentist told him two teeth may require root canals or crowns in the future.
Cooper said his client’s injuries are extensive and it’s unknown when he will be medically cleared to return to work.