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Hartselle Enquirer

Mayor: Ex-officer was handled properly

Somerville city leaders are defending their handling of a former police officer who is now off the job after being convicted of assaulting his ex-wife’s boyfriend.
Mayor Ray Long said the officer, Jamie Whitt, provided false information to the city in relation to the case. Once the true nature of the incident came out, the town handled it correctly, he said.
“I believe we handled this the best way possible once we knew what had happened,” said Long, who’s the Republican nominee for County Commission chairman.
The situation began Nov. 8, 2009, when Whitt got into an altercation with his ex-wife, Jami Whitt, and her boyfriend, Kristopher Hughes. Whitt, who was off duty at the time, said he was driving his girlfriend’s car when he encountered his ex-wife and her boyfriend and a fight ensued.  Whitt’s former wife claimed he was in his patrol vehicle and pulled them over after turning on his blue lights.
During the fight, Hughes said Whitt struck him with his flashlight. Long said the flashlight was Whitt’s private property, not city-issued equipment.
“They (officers) provide their own flashlights and handcuffs,” he said. Both men were treated for injuries after the fight.
Long said the city was presented with several statements from Whitt’s friends backing up his claims that he was not in his patrol vehicle at the time of the incident. Based on those claims, Whitt was suspended for two days without pay. Whitt was later arrested in connection with the incident and charged with assault and criminal mischief in the third degree.
More than 10 months after the incident, on Sept. 21, Whitt was convicted of both charges. He was given a 12-month suspended sentence, five days in jail, year’s probation and a $1,000 fine.
During the course of the trail, Long said information came out that showed Whitt was in his police car during the incident but was not on duty. Based on those statements, Whitt met with Chief Joe Mann Sept. 24 and resigned. Additional charges may be coming from state or federal officials. Whitt is also facing lawsuit by Howell J. Mason alleging Whitt assaulted him during a traffic stop. The town of Somerville is also named in the suit.
Long said he believes the city handled the process correctly, given the statements they were presented.
“ We expect and demand that our officers not only uphold the law, but to also abide by the law.  We have never tolerated nor will we ever tolerate an officer that feels he or she is above the law they are charged with keeping,” Long said.

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