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Judge orders Beaumont firefighter to be reinstated following 2012 suspension

The city did not reinstate Matthews after the charges were dropped. The judge also ruled the city must re-instate the firefighter with back pay.
Credit: Cherith Cobbs
The Beaumont Fire Department held a fundraiser for Coast Guard families affected by the government shut down.

BEAUMONT, Texas — A district judge this week reversed a hearing examiner's 2012 decision to uphold the City of Beaumont's suspension of a firefighter.  

Beaumont firefighter James Matthews was suspended in 2011. The city suspended him as a result of an aggravated assault charge. The charge was filed following a 2008 incident in which Matthews tried to detain Jeremiah Freeman, whom he suspected was driving drunk. The assault charge was dropped in 2009. 

The city did not reinstate Matthews after the charges were dropped, and he has been fighting to return to work since then.

Freeman died in an accident in 2011.

Judge Justin Sanderson Thursday ruled that the hearing examiner exceeded his jurisdiction in 2012 when he determined the city's suspension was in compliance with Texas Government Code.  The judge also ruled the city must re-instate Matthews with back pay. 

The City of Beaumont has not yet said if it will appeal Judge Sanderson's decision.

READ MORE | Jeremiah Stone Freeman's obituary from 2011

The city will hold an executive session on Tuesday where they will decide what action to take, City Attorney Tyrone Cooper said. 

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