ABI probe incomplete

Published 12:00 am Monday, April 30, 2007

The Selma Times-Journal

Family members of a young man and his grandfather allegedly beaten the night of March 16 by police gave an emotional plea Monday to have the officers removed from duty pending the outcome of the investigation.

Michael Hollman, the uncle of 20-year-old Kourtney Gordon, pleaded with the Selma City Council to “please, please, please place these officers on administrative leave of some type” until the findings of the Alabama Bureau of Investigations was complete.

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Police attempted to stop Gordon for a traffic violation at about 11 p.m. that night and Gordon proceeded to his grandparents home at 2307 West Dr. When Gordon stopped, officers had their weapons drawn, Hollman said, and “bounced him from car to car.” When Hollman’s father, Walter Hollman, questioned police, family members said he was handcuffed and arrested.

“My father is 64 years old and weighs 120 pounds. He’s never had a speeding ticket,” Hollman said. “What if that were your child. What if that were your father.”

Both were arrested and charged. Hollman was charged with assaulting a police officer and resisting arrest. Gordon was charged with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest. They were both booked and released on $1,000 bond. The case was turned over to the ABI, but family members alleged “the ABI had to file a motion to get all of the information.”

“Police Chief (Jimmy) Martin, Mayor (James) Perkins should have taken it in their own hands,” Michael Hollman said. “All of us are not thugs, Mr. President. All of us are not hoodlums, Mr. Police Chief.”

Gordon’s grandmother, Ruth Hollman, also went before the Council saying she would never uphold her children in any wrong. “An officer had his gun drawn on my grandson. He said ‘grandma, grandma they have a gun to my head,'” she said. “They maced my husband when he was in handcuffs.”

Mayor James Perkins Jr. insisted the City was not trying to uphold any officers who were “out of line.” Council President George Evans said, “he’s told us some things we need to talk about.”

Perkins said the results from the ABI investigation would not come back to the City, but will be forwarded to the District Attorney’s Office for prosecution. He said he wanted to be clear he wouldn’t uphold any officers found to have overreacted.

While the identities of the officers have not been publicized, Councilwoman Dr. Geraldine Allen said a possibility could be to have the officers “placed on desk duty until the investigation is over.”

In other business, the council:

Approved a resolution to raise its secretary’s salary to $31,000 a year, a $7,000 increase.

The vote came after Perkins presented a formal objection in the form of a veto to stop the pay raise.

In giving his veto, Perkins cited morale issues among other employees, as well as the fact that the council went outside the pay grade structure it has previously approved. The pay grade structure gives a pay range of $19,385.50 to $25,064 for the position.

Council members approved the resolution, 6-3, the same vote made April 9 when they initially approved the raise, pending the passing of the resolution.

Perkins has 10 days to veto the resolution, and he indicated he will do so.

Approved a motion to transfer $48,000 in funds to initiate a study of the Selma Police Department. Perkins said it will be a comprehensive, independent study.

Heard the mayor honor police officer Carlos Jones for five years of dedicated service as an employee of the city of Selma.

Heard a request from Patty Sexton for the city council to be a $2,500 partner with Relay for Life, which will be held May 18.

Sexton said $50,000 was raised last year for the American Cancer Society.

“We’re asking everyone here to be a part of a team, or make a donation,” Sexton said.

The city council members were asked to participate in a pie-throwing fund-raiser in which participants will pay to throw a whipped cream pie at the face of a council member. Evans said “count me in” and encouraged other council members to be involved.

Approved $2,427.88 for a two-day professional development/sensitivity training for police officers.

Unanimously approved a request for the city to provide 10 percent of a $399,850 Homeland Security Grant for the Selma Fire Department.

Unanimously approved a request for the city to provide 10 percent of a $260,965 Homeland Security Grant to purchase equipment.

Heard the mayor announce that the skateboard park will have its official opening at 4 p.m. on May 7. The park is located near the tennis courts next to Memorial Stadium.

Selma Times-Journal editor Tammy Leytham contributed to this report.