CONTACT 13: CCSD cop reinstated despite DUI, battery convictions

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) - Can you be fired from your job for something you do when you're off work? 

The answer is no in the case of a former Clark County School District police officer.

His conduct was offensive. He should have known better. And his crimes were serious offenses, especially because they were committed by a seasoned peace officer. 

Despite all that, a former sergeant should and will get his job back.

That's the decision detailed in a binding arbitration after former school police Sgt. Anthony Russo fought back against the Clark County School District after he was fired. 

Contact 13 spoke to the 21-year police veteran in the summer when he was president of the school police officers union and worried that there were not enough officers on staff to keep everyone safe in the 2016-17 school year.

"What it's made is an already soft target even softer, in our eyes," Russo said last summer. "We definitely believe that this is dangerous for everyone involved."

In the fall of 2015, while off duty, Russo went to a family wedding, where he drank, then drove and got in a car crash with two teenagers. 

Records show Russo went to the other car involved in the crash, reached in the passenger side window and started punching the teenage passenger in the head. He also pulled his gun. 

Russo was later found guilty of misdemeanor DUI and one count of misdemeanor battery. 

But the arbitrator found the school district was wrong when they fired him. 

Although the arbitrator wrote that Russo "engaged in foolish and offensive behavior when he angrily struck an incapacitated, innocent teenager," he found nothing indicates malicious motive or criminal intent. 

Further, the arbitrator said "an employee's private life is none of the employer's concern" unless there's a damaging impact to the workplace. 

And in this case, there was none.

Russo won't get back pay and benefits for the time period his driver's license was suspended. 

But he will get his job back, plus back pay for the rest of the time. 

Contact 13 spoke to him Thursday, but he doesn't want to comment until he's back on the job. 

CCSD police had no comment.

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