RICHMOND -- A twice-fired Richmond police officer placed on leave earlier this year after having an off-duty altercation with a neighbor near his Fairfield home returned to duty on April 4.

Dedrick Riley, a nine-year Richmond police officer, was placed on paid leave Jan. 16 while the department conducted an Internal Affairs investigation into a Jan. 11 incident.

"The department frankly overreacted in putting him on administrative leave," said Riley's attorney, Michael Rains of Pleasant Hill-based Rains Lucia Stern PC. "But to their credit, they conducted an investigation and have put (Riley) back to work."

Richmond police Capt. Mark Gagan said Riley returned to "full police powers" and resumed duty in April.

"The (Internal Affairs) investigation is not complete," Gagan said. "But (Riley) has been brought back to work with full police powers because it appears that his conduct will not merit a severe punishment."

Riley, 43, has faced multiple allegations of misconduct since his hiring in 2004. He has a history of beating misconduct charges, including a jury acquittal last year of assaulting a suspect while on the job. Riley was twice fired from the department for allegedly punching people he encountered on the job and lying about it. Both times, he won back his job through arbitration after appealing the city's decision.

The latest incident stemmed from an altercation between Riley and a neighbor in Fairfield, where Riley lives. Police responding to a disturbing-the-peace call found Riley and another man near Riley's house.

Rains said Riley was "followed home" in a road rage incident and had an argument with the man.

The other man claimed Riley assaulted him and pointed a gun at him, according to a police report on the incident obtained by this newspaper. Riley was briefly detained but not arrested.

"Administrative leave is not to be viewed as discipline or punishment but rather an opportunity for serious allegations to be investigated," Gagan said.

Gagan added that Riley returns to the same position he held before, doing office work with the administrative division and not patrolling the streets.

Rains said his client should be back on the streets, and said he hoped to discuss the issue with Chief Chris Magnus soon.

"There is no reason under the law that (Riley) should not be returned to an active patrol assignment," Rains said. "We hope we can get there through discussion rather than litigation."

Riley's most recent legal battle was over accusations that he used excessive force in March 2009. A fellow officer and an alleged drug addict said Riley repeatedly punched a man whom he had observed smoking crack.

A jury in January 2012 found Riley not guilty of unnecessary assault by an officer, filing a false police report and battery.

Riley had been working desk duty since the acquittal, Gagan said.

Riley did not return calls to his desk requesting comment.

Contact Robert Rogers at 510-262-2726 or rrogers@bayareanewsgroup.com and follow Twitter.com/roberthrogers