The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Local News

March 26, 2014

Ex-Athens police officer says he was wrongly fired after reporting alleged corruption


B. Harrison Corruption Scandal

20. It was widely reported in the summer of 2009 that Defendant Tracy Harrison, who was then a Captain in the Athens Police Department, had covered up a DUI arrest made by the Department.

21. After receiving a phone call from a DUI arrestee’s attorney, Defendant Harrison deleted Police Department records, logs, and notices to the State of the DUI arrest, including what is referred to as an “AST60 mail log.”

22. In order to stop the eventual prosecution of the DUI, Defendant Harrison, accompanied by then-Lt. Pressnell, used a police vehicle to pull over an on-duty postal worker driving a U.S. Mail vehicle.

23. After stopping the mail truck, Defendant Harrison intercepted, retrieved, and destroyed important documentation about the DUI arrest before it arrived at the

Alabama Department of Public Safety.

24. Defendant Harrison then requested that Officer Jason Threet not swear to the arrest.

25. Thereafter, Jason Threet was the next officer promoted to Sergeant.

26. A complaint was made to the Office of the Attorney General about the events surrounding Defendant Harrison’s cover-up of the DUI arrest.

27. The Office of the Attorney General of Alabama launched a well-publicized investigation of Captain Harrison and the Athens Police Department.

Plaintiff Engages in Protected Activity

28. Plaintiff spoke with Decatur Daily reporter Holly Hollman about the cover-up of the Harrison corruption scandal, as well as another incident involving DA

Investigator Chris Slaton, who was involved in a public fight emanating from a domestic disturbance.

29. Plaintiff was one of the sources that informed Holly Hollman of corruption within the Athens Police Department, including the cover-up of the Harrison DUI scandal.

30. In the fall of 2009, Plaintiff met with Defendant William R. Marks in Marks’ home.

31. At the time of said meeting, Defendant Marks was the Athens City Council President.

32. Defendant Marks is now the Mayor of the City of Athens.

33. During the meeting in Defendant Marks’ home, Plaintiff reported to Marks that there was extreme division within the department, and that corruption in the department was becoming a serious problem that was personal to Plaintiff.

34. During that meeting, Defendant Marks responded to Plaintiff: “I don’t feel as sorry for the person who called the AG’s Office as I do for whoever called the media. That person is looking at serious trouble.”

35. Two weeks later, Defendant Reed Wayne Harper (who was then the Department’s Police Chief), and Defendant Floyd Johnson (who was then a Police Lieutenant), called every one of the Department’s investigators into an interview, one by one, in order to determine who reported Defendant Harrison to the Alabama Attorney General’s office and to the media.

36. In 2010, Plaintiff was interrogated by Defendant Harper in Harper’s office regarding Plaintiff’s knowledge about the corruption scandal involving Captain Harrison and Plaintiff’s knowledge about, and dealings with, local reporters.

37. That interrogation was witnessed by Defendant Johnson.

38. Defendant Johnson is now the Police Chief of the Athens Police Department.

39. Defendant Harper suspected that an investigator employed by the Department had reported Harrison’s behavior to the Attorney General’s office, and asked Plaintiff whether he had knowledge of such incidents.

40. At his interrogation, Plaintiff unequivocally voiced his support for the reporting of Defendant Harrison’s actions to the Attorney General’s office.

41. A week after Plaintiff’s interrogation, Plaintiff saw Defendant Marks on the sidewalk.

42. During that encounter, Defendant Marks asked Plaintiff if things had improved any within the department.

43. Plaintiff replied to Defendant Marks that things were only getting worse, and explained to Marks that all of the investigators were being interrogated regarding the Harrison corruption scandal.

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