City of Champaign fires Matt Rush for second time

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CHAMPAIGN – The City of Champaign’s Human Resources office confirms Champaign Officer Matt Rush has been fired, and his termination letter has been made public.

Police Chief Anthony Cobb informed the now former police officer in a letter on Wednesday, April 13, that he had recommended Rush be terminated to the City Manager and that it had been approved, with his termination taking effect immediately.

This decision comes after Rush was named in several excessive force lawsuits over the past two years. Rush was previously fired in 2014, but the termination was later dismissed by an arbitrator. An extended timeline can be found in WAND’s article concerning Rush’s civil suit against Cobb.

The letters released by the City of Champaign reference an internal investigation, as well as a statement made by State’s Attorney Julia Rietz.

An internal investigation, that took place February 20 and 21, revealed Rush had been highly intoxicated at Fat City Bar and Grill in Champaign. He was reported to be exposing his badge and weapon to bar employees while representing himself as an officer.

Cobb states in the letter that he determined Rush had violated Police Department rules of Conduct Unbecoming of a Police Officer, Badge and Credentials and User of Department Position in General.

“I am particularly concerned that this incident demonstrates a continued pattern of poor judgement and poor decision-making on your part,” Cobb adds.

Champaign County State’s Attorney Julia Rietz was also cited in the letter as saying she would be
“unwilling to utilize [Rush] as a witness for the State in criminal proceedings, regardless of [his] role, due to [his] repeated failure to adequately document [his] use of force, [his] disciplinary history, and her concerns regarding [his] judgment and decision-making in crisis situations, particularly with respect to the mentally ill.”

The letter comes to the conclusion that Rush can no longer perform the essential functions of a Champaign Police Officer. Cobb also says the City does not have any positions that would not require Rush to exercise his powers as a sworn police officer and would not be called upon to testify in criminal matters.

Rush’s termination takes effect immediately, but he does have the right to appeal the decision.

The full termination letter can be found here. A list of Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests made regarding Matt Rush can all be found here.

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