0

Riverdale officer charged with public indecency fired

By Ed Brock

A Riverdale police officer charged with public indecency in connection with an incident at a Fayetteville amusement park has been fired from his job, but said on Tuesday he's going to fight the termination.

Capt. Carl Freeman was "terminated due to charges stemming from an internal affairs investigation," said Riverdale police Officer Debra Johnson.

Johnson said she didn't know if the investigation was connected to Freeman's arrest on Sept. 3 in connection with an incident that happened on Labor Day at Dixieland Fun Park in which the park owner said he saw Freeman urinating into a pond at the park. He has been charged with public indecency, disorderly conduct, criminal trespass and simple assault.

"I'm innocent of any wrongdoing with the police department and I'm going to fight to get my job back," Freeman said.

Freeman said that he was "almost certain" that his termination was connected to the Labor Day incident and he is scheduled to attend a "name clearing hearing" today at the police department. He has been terminated from the department three times before, Freeman said, but was exonerated and restored to his position each time.

John Williams, the owner of the park, told police that he saw Freeman urinate into a pond at the park while standing on a deck overlooking the park.

"Mr. Freeman was confronted by the owner which resulted in an altercation," said Sgt. Belinda McCastle with the Fayette Sheriff's Office.

Freeman said that he did urinate in the pond but he thought that nobody was watching and he thought that because the park was closed that the bathroom facilities were closed, too.

Also, Freeman said that Williams was the aggressor in the confrontation that followed. According to the Fayette County arrest warrants, Freeman used "fighting words" and profanity toward Williams.

Freeman has been with the department since 1990. He also has a pending complaint against the department filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Smith said.

"We turned over everything the EEOC requested and we're waiting on their response," Smith said.

Freeman said he has filed two complaints with the EEOC against the department, including one in 2001 and another last May that includes five other officers. The complaints involve the alleged use of racial slurs by officers in the department.

"All of this is directly connected to the complaint I made," Freeman said.

Freeman's termination is "retaliatory and vindictive" and connected to the EEOC complaints, said Coz Carson, Freeman's spokesman.

"The zeal with which they have pursued him would have any logical person asking why," Carson said.

Carson called Freeman "a man of some backbone" for standing up against the use of racist comments in the department and said Freeman's reputation in the community is impeccable.

In May Riverdale Police Chief Michael Edwards had retired Thomasville Police Chief John Perry perform an investigation into the rumors and Edwards said previously that investigation seemed to show no racial discrimination in the department. Freeman's complaints were included in that report.