Police Merit Commission decides to terminate Evansville Police Officer

A former Evansville Police Officer of the Year lost his badge and his job on Monday night.

After a meeting that lasted all day and into the night, the Police Merit Commission voted to fire Steve Hicks. He's accused of inappropriately touching a female bartender while he was on duty.

Hicks show little emotion on Monday night when the decision came down. The woman who brought the complaint tells 14 News that she's happy she can now put the incident behind her.

Lisa Turpen says Hicks responded to a call on September 10 outside Rick's Bar, where she is a bartender. She told the commission that he touched her tank top above her chest. He was on-duty at the time.

Then a week later, surveillance video shows Hicks back at the bar, again on duty, but not on a call. A defense witness testified the video showed Hicks touching his accuser five times.

Hicks testified he did not touch her tank top near her chest and felt that he was welcome behind the bar.

But after 11 hours of testimony on Monday, the commission voted two to zero to terminate Hicks from the police force.

"We obviously believe that they got it wrong, both in terms of all eight charges and in terms of the appropriate penalty," said Charles Braun, Hick's attorney.

"This has been hell since September the 10th and I'm glad it's done. If something happened to you, stand up and do what's right," Turpen told 14 News.

Evansville Police Chief Billy Bolin gave 14 News this statement on Monday night:

"While I'm happy with The Merit Commission's decision, there are no winners in a situation like this. We have a great department with officers who go above and beyond everyday. Unfortunately, incidents like this give all of us a black eye. Decisions like these are the hardest part of this job, but this was the best outcome for the community."

Hicks' attorney says Hicks can appeal, but no decision has been made. No criminal charges were filed in this case.

Hicks is an eight year veteran of the force.

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