Rumors answered in wreck investigation

Published 11:20 pm Wednesday, April 15, 2009

What the public thought it knew about Selma Police Sgt. Jimmy Martin’s accident in a Selma police car last month near the Bibb County line is different from what showed up on an official report filed with the Alabama Department of Public Safety.

A report filled out by state Trooper David Rogers shows that Martin was standing in Alabama Highway 219 holding an umbrella at about 6:45 a.m on March 26. Rogers called Selma and asked if Selma had received a call about an accident at the 32 mile marker on Ala. 291 in Perry County. Selma affirmed and said a trooper was completing an accident investigation elsewhere before reporting to the site. Rogers exited his patrol car and walked toward the man with the umbrella. The trooper noticed the man was wearing a Selma Police Department uniform with three stripes below the police department patch on the sleeves.

Martin told the trooper he struck a tree that was in the road. The trooper assessed the patrol car’s damage and asked Martin if he wanted to make a report. “Trpr. Rogers looked at the vehicle and noticed damage to the passenger side of the vehicle around the front tire. Tpr. Rogers noticed that the part of the front bumper that wraps around the vehicle had separated from the front passenger quarter panel along with some slight damage to the front bumper of the vehicle,” the supplement report signed by Rogers stated.

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Martin gave Rogers his license and the trooper copied down the information on the accident report. Martin couldn’t find the insurance form in the police car’s glove compartment, so the trooper told Martin to call it in later. It was at this time the trooper asked if the wrecked vehicle was Martin’s police car and Martin affirmed. The police car was not disabled and Martin drove it away. The police sergeant called the trooper at 10:30 a.m. and gave Rogers his insurance information.

When questioned about the accident during Tuesday’s meeting of the Selma City Council, Martin said he was headed to work. He had taken the police car home because he was on call that night. Martin said he had taken the car home before and drove it around Selma, using his own money to put gas in the vehicle.

Selma Mayor George Evans said the 1998 Ford police car driven by Martin had been salvaged, then pulled out and restored. Martin spent several hundred dollars to make it “drivable,” the mayor said.

Evans said he was aware that some council members and others said Martin lied to the state trooper.

“The trooper’s report is available. Martin ran over a tree stump that caused some damage to the front end of the car,” the mayor said, adding that Martin stayed at the scene and called to make sure the report was filed.

“I don’t know where people got that Sgt. Martin lied,” Evans said. “I wish we would not beat up on anybody until we know all the facts.”

Now, no department head or police officer is driving out of the county in a city-owned vehicle, the mayor said.