Suit against city moved to Mobile

Published 12:00 am Thursday, February 21, 2008


A $15 million lawsuit against the city has moved to U.S. District Court.

A Birmingham attorney moved the lawsuit to the U.S. District Court in Mobile, saying the federal courts have jurisdiction over the case.

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The move comes about two weeks after Roderick Prince filed a complaint in Dallas County Circuit Court against the city and several members of the now-disbanded Selma Police Department Drug Unit &8212; Charles Webber, Timothy Barnhill and Samuel Miller.

In the filing, Alex L. Holtsford Jr., who represents the city and police officers in the case, also answered Prince&8217;s complaint, denying any of the events and adding that Prince is not entitled to $15 million in damages.

The altercation occurred more than two years ago on Gaines Street in Selmont.

Prince claims through his attorney, J.L. Chestnut Jr. of Selma, that on Jan. 27, 2006, six members of the drug task force driving around in an unmarked van spotted eight to 10 men standing on Gaines Street. Someone fired a shot. At some point, someone shot the police van.

The complaint said that Barnhill was the only officer who could identify the figure of the person who fired the shot as a person dressed in dark clothing. None of the witnesses identified Prince as the person who fired the weapon in the incident.

Prince was shot during the incident, although, the complaint states, he was unarmed. The complaint alleges that the officers tried to cover up their mistake by one of the policemen firing a weapon into the air and placing it in the street about 20 feet from where Prince lay wounded.

In the answer to Prince&8217;s complaint, the attorney for the city and police officers noted that Prince was under indictment on the charge of attempted murder even after Circuit Court Judge Bob Armstrong dismissed several charges filed against Prince .

If the city prevails against Prince, it will seek compensation costs.

A trial date has not been set.