McPhillips rails against second indictment of officers

Published 8:55 pm Tuesday, June 11, 2019

In the shadow of Selma City Hall, Montgomery attorney Julian McPhillips recalled the literal storm that was rolling through the area when he began receiving calls from the three Selma Police Department (SPD) officers – Toriano Neely, Jeffrey Hardy and Kendall Thomas – saying that they had been indicted again, only weeks after the initial charges against them were dropped.

“An evil wind is blowing through Selma,” McPhillips said.

The attorney held Tuesday’s press conference to express outrage over a new indictment brought against the officers, which alleges the same crimes as the earlier indictment and provides no further details of what exactly the officers have been accused.

Email newsletter signup

According to McPhillips, the new indictment, which strays from the earlier charges by alleging a misdemeanor rather than a felony, has not even been made available to his office.

McPhillips said “personal animosity” is driving the latest indictment and called on Selma Mayor Darrio Melton and SPD Chief Spencer Collier to stand behind the officers.

“Selma, as you know, has its share of crime,” McPhillips said. “It needs its law enforcement working together. These police officers deserve better.”

McPhillips also alleged that the new indictment stems from embarrassment on the part of Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall, whose office indicted the officer and whose Special Investigator, Susan Smith, caused the earlier indictment to be thrown out.

“They had egg on their face the first time,” McPhillips said. “[They’re] just trying to wipe it off.”

McPhillips also praised Neely and Hardy who were present during the press conference as some of Selma’s best.

“To be treated like this is worse than outrageous,” McPhillips said. “It is so extremely petty that there aren’t really words for it. This whole thing is such a waste of taxpayer money.”

According to McPhillips, the accusations against the officers stem from an investigation into guns that went missing from SPD headquarters.

McPhillips said the three officers were investigating the disappearance of the firearms and a female officer involved was never brought to justice.

McPhillips noted the “euphoric vindication” the officers had experienced when their case was dismissed two weeks ago and slammed those involved with bringing a new indictment forward.

“It’s a huge misstep,” McPhillips said. “It’s part of the dysfunctionalism going on in this city.”

Along with not receiving a copy of the indictment, McPhillips questioned the process by which a new grand jury was summoned, stating that the process was likely rushed.

Additionally, McPhillips again brought up the fact that the state provided more than 30,000 digital documents with no indication of which ones were relevant to the case.

McPhillips alleges this was done in an attempt to hide the reasons for the indictment.

Further, McPhillips lambasted the city for failing to respond to multiple letters requesting a hearing before the city’s Personnel Board, a fact that he says only further indicates the level of dysfunction in the city

For his part, McPhillips is confident that the officers’ case will again be thrown out.

“We’re not going to allow it,” McPhillips said. “They’re fighters and we’re going to fight with them. Selma shall rise again.”