CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- A Charleston police officer placed on administrative leave last month during an internal investigation has asked for medical retirement, according to the city's police chief.
City officials have not said why Lt. James A. Sands was suspended, or said if it is related to his testimony in the trial of a former Charleston detective convicted of "double dipping" - working for private employers while being paid by the city.
"It is an internal investigation and a criminal investigation," Police Chief Brent Webster said Monday. "I think you all can draw conclusions on what it is."
Sands requested a medical retirement in a letter to the Charleston Police Department's pension and relief board Monday, Webster said.
"He has requested that but it is by no means a foregone conclusion," the chief said.
Webster would not reveal Sands' stated medical problem, citing federal privacy laws.
Sands, a former patrol supervisor with nearly 17 years on the force, testified at the trial of former detective James L. "Chip" Nowling in April. Sands said that he was paid by the Charleston Town Center mall to schedule Charleston police to work security at the mall.
Also, Sands was named in a sealed report ordered by a judge before Nowling's trial as having worked more than 250 "conflicted" hours himself between 2000 and 2004. The report was obtained by the Gazette.
If Sands' pension is granted, it could be taken away if he is convicted of a felony connected to his police work, said Charleston police Sgt. Tony Payne, secretary of the Charleston police pension and relief board.
Taking away the pension would have to be voted on by the pension board, Payne said. If Sands received a medical pension, it probably would not be taken away without a conviction, he said.
Police are not eligible for regular retirement until they have at least 20 years on the force, Payne said.