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Pinal County panel exonerates fired deputy

FLORENCE, Ariz. -- A Pinal County panel has ruled a fired deputy should get his job back and that the grounds for his initial dismissal weren't justified.

The Arizona Republic reports the Pinal County Law Enforcement Merit Commission voted 3-1 Friday that Deputy Andrew Wikstrom be allowed to return to work and that all but one of the charges against him lacked merit.

They deadlocked on the other charge.

The Pinal County Sheriff's Office terminated Wikstrom on Aug. 19 after an internal investigation found he used excessive force in a December 2012 arrest.

Wikstrom also faced charges of dishonesty and insubordination.

The charges arose after Wikstrom came forward in 2012 with safety concerns regarding the Sheriff's Office aviation unit.

Spokesman Tim Gaffney says the Sheriff's Office will appeal the ruling. ___ Information from: The Arizona Republic

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