The mayor of an Alabama city has accused the police chief of deleting murder charges and has suspended him for a third time, marking the latest installment of issues between the two officials.
Tarrant mayor Wayman Newton announced the suspension of police chief Wendell Major on Feb. 1.
In a news release, Newton accuses the chief of deleting charges of murder, attempted murder and arson in multiple cases in December and January.
On Feb. 1, Newton also fired a police sergeant, according to a termination letter. In a hearing, the sergeant reportedly said she was doing her job and responding to the chief, according to the letter. When McClatchy News reached out to Newton to confirm the firing, he said no one with the sergeant’s last name works for the City of Tarrant.
Major’s lawyer, Scott Morro, told McClatchy News the claims against the chief are “absolutely, 100% false.”
“He won’t quit,” Morro said of the mayor, adding that he has “recklessly made accusations.”
He attributed the suspensions to “underlying personal issues” between the mayor and chief.
Newton lists several dates in December and January in which he says Major deleted charges filed against suspects, including in high-profile death cases.
In the release, Newton also said that Major, who is a practicing attorney, gave police officers business cards to hand out to people who were in car accidents.
A QR code on the back of the card links to an AlaWreck website that allows crash victims to receive free copies of their accident reports “along with medical treatment and legal representation presumably through Major’s law firm, the Major Law Firm LLC” or a law firm he partners with, according to the release.
AlaWreck is not connected to a law firm and serves to provide resources for crash victims, a representative told McClatchy News over the phone.
Major has been put on administrative leave without pay for 51 days, according to the suspension letter obtained by McClatchy News.
“Chief Major’s efforts to manipulate crime statistics and to use Tarrant police officers to advertise for his and another law firm are deeply troubling,” Newton wrote in the release.
He said third-party investigators are looking into the “alleged data manipulation and advertisement scheme.”
Morro told McClatchy News the conflict between the chief and the mayor has been “detrimental to the citizens of Tarrant” and he has requested city council discuss the mayor’s impeachment at a meeting on Feb. 5.
McClatchy News reached out to the sergeant Feb. 2 for comment on the termination but did not immediately receive a response.
Tarrant is a town of about 6,000 people about 5 miles northeast of downtown Birmingham.
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