Northern Illinois University has cleared its tough-talking police chief of allegations he threatened an editor of the campus newspaper, and on Friday it reinstated the man seen as a hero after last year's campus shooting as NIU's top cop.
An independent review panel "found no evidence of misconduct or inappropriate actions" by Donald Grady, who led his men into a lecture hall last year after a gunman opened fire, killing five students, a school statement said.
Administrators had placed the 56-year-old on paid leave in October after he was accused of threatening and trying to bribe the Northern Star's editor-in-chief, Justin Weaver, during an interview. The allegations prompted the newspaper to call for Grady's removal.
A finding against Grady could have cost him his $199,000-a-year job. But the panel found Grady never threatened or sought to bribe Weaver. A separate criminal investigation by an internal investigations unit of the Illinois State Police came to the same conclusion, NIU said.
Grady's reinstatement as police chief at the 25,000-student campus was effective immediately, NIU said.
Even Grady's detractors have praised his response to the deadly attack on Feb. 14, 2008.
As 911 calls came in about gunshots, the 6-foot-5 former sprint star bolted to Cole Hall. The 27-year-old shooter, Steven Kazmierczak, was already dead of a self-inflicted gunshot when Grady and several officers rushed inside, but survivors praised Grady's bravery.
He also won kudos for bolstering campus security over several years and for long ago drawing up detailed plans on how to react to crises, including a campus shooting. For weeks after the 2008 attack, students applauded Grady when he walked by, some even hugged him.
Messages left Friday afternoon for both Donald Grady and Justin Weaver were not immediately returned.