MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) - Five Montgomery police officers have resigned and three
more have been placed on leave in an internal investigation that includes allegations
of police brutality, city officials said Thursday.
The probe began after an officer fought with a juvenile he was transporting,
and city officials are concerned about racial aspects of the allegations, said
Larry Armstead, assistant to Mayor Bobby Bright.
He said seven of the officers are white and all of the victims are black.
"Obviously ... that's something that concerns me," Armstead said
when reached at his home Thursday evening after news reports about the investigation.
The officers are accused of abusing their position of authority, mistreating
citizens and false reporting of incidents, he said.
The officers were not identified, and what they specifically did wrong was
not revealed because the investigation is under way, Armstead said.
All eight officers worked late or overnight shifts and were confronted Wednesday
night. That's when the five resigned and the three others put on leave without
pay, Armstead said.
The investigation began Monday when Officer Michael Clark was charged with
criminal use of the defense spray mace and harassment for getting in a fight
with a 17-year-old prisoner.
Clark, 32, got into the argument with a prisoner he was transporting, according
to Montgomery police. Clark stopped the car and the two started pushing and
shoving. Then Clark used mace on the prisoner.
Clark was one of the five officers who resigned, Armstead said. The lone black
officer did not resign.
"We will go back as far as we need to. I don't care how deep this goes,
we will investigate," the Montgomery Advertiser quoted Bright as saying.
Bright, Montgomery police and city attorney Howard Mandell didn't immediately
return calls Thursday from The Associated Press seeking additional comment.
The internal investigations branch of Montgomery police has found violations
going back at least several months, Armstead said. Investigators are looking
into all previous complaints made about the officers.
The state attorney general's office, the U.S. attorney's office and the FBI
also are examining the case. Any criminal charges would come from one of those
groups, Armstead said.
Additional officers - and victims - may be involved, he said.
"That number will probably change by tomorrow," Armstead said Thursday.
The actions of a small group of Montgomery police shouldn't reflect poorly
on the entire department, Bright said.
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"You bring a little tarnish on the badge, but by correcting this problem,
you make that badge burn brighter in the end," he told WSFA-TV.