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Jackson was subject of Internal Affairs speeding probe; record shows he changed police report

Charlotte City Council last week decided not to review the personnel file of former Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Officer Marcus Jackson. Jackson is accused of sexually assaulting five women he pulled over on traffic stops and one woman who called 911 for help with a domestic disturbance. Overall, he's been indicted on 15 charges. But the rookie officer received the attention of CMPD's Internal Affairs division even before the first charges were filed against him. There are still unanswered questions about that investigation. Among them: Why did officer Jackson change a police report one month after he filed it? WFAE's Victoria Cherrie and Lisa Miller filed this report. On July 11th at 4:53 a.m., CMPD police officer Marcus Jackson was following officer Peter Lombardo to provide back up on a priority call in East Charlotte. They were speeding. Lombardo crashed his cruiser at the intersection of Central Avenue and St. George Street. Jackson filed the police report. He said Lombardo was going 45 in a 35 mph zone. But that was wrong. A month later, on Aug. 15, Jackson changed the report to say Lombardo was actually going 65 mph. Then, in September, Internal Affairs found that both officers were going at least 75 mph. A review board gave Lombardo a 16-hour suspension. He served eight hours immediately. The rest was suspended provided he had no other violations within a year. As for Jackson, here's what CMPD spokesman Rob Tufano said last week on WBT Radio. "He was suspended to the best of my knowledge one time. And I'm not going into the nature of what his suspension was, but I will tell you it does not rise to the level of termination regardless of whether he was on probation or not," Tufano told host Wayne Powers. Jackson was given a 16-hour suspension. But here's what Tufano didn't say: Jackson wouldn't lose pay or a day of work. He would only have to serve his suspension if he broke another department rule within a year. A review board determined that officer Lombardo, the other officer who was speeding, should receive the stiffer punishment because he wrecked his cruiser. WFAE obtained this information from a CMPD source with knowledge of disciplinary actions against officers. It's unclear why Jackson didn't put the correct speed on the report or if he was questioned about the inaccuracy. Police Chief Rodney Monroe and Tufano declined to talk to WFAE for this story. Under North Carolina law anyone who willfully makes a false, misleading or unfounded police report can be charged with a misdemeanor. It also could be considered a violation of the police department's Rules of Conduct. WFAE did not find any record that Jackson's inaccurate report was the subject of an investigation. At a press conference last month, Monroe addressed CMPD internal investigations. "We're a department that investigates very heavily violations of policy and we take the appropriate action where officers may be reprimanded or suspended for those particular actions. That is not to say they can no longer be police officers. "Therefore, we don't want to get to the point where we say that every time an officer commits an infraction that we're seeking to remove them from the force. We look to investigate it and take the appropriate action commiserate with the offense," Monroe said. Jackson turned 26 last month. He graduated from the police academy in February 2009. Ten months later, the first two of Jackson's alleged victims came forward and he was fired. His case prompted city leaders to debate reviewing, and possibly releasing, his personnel file. That file, presumably, includes information about Jackson's employment with CMPD and history before he was hired. That history includes two domestic violence restraining orders and a judge's order that temporarily prohibited him from carrying a firearm. A CMPD background check only caught one of these orders. Last week, the Charlotte City Council voted 6 - 4 not to go into closed session to review Jackson's file. Several members of city council said they spoke to Chief Monroe and City Manager Curt Walton about the file in days leading up to the meeting. Councilman Michael Barnes, for one, said he was satisfied with what he was told. "As I understand it from the police chief and city manager, almost everything that it's in the file has already been discussed publicly as part of the investigation."