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Fired police chief sues to overturn termination

By Linda Looney-Bond

lbond@news-daily.com

Former Jonesboro Police Chief Brad Johnson has filed suit in Clayton County Superior Court appealing his termination, as well as his earlier suspension on the job.

The suit, filed Tuesday, asks the court to grant Johnson an opportunity for an oral argument to reverse the termination and suspension, and to grant "such other relief as [the court] may deem fit and proper."

Jonesboro Mayor Luther Maddox fired Johnson May 21, stating in a memo that Johnson had not successfully completed his "working test," which Maddox later referred to as a probationary period.

On June 8, the city council voted 4-2 to uphold Maddox's decision to fire Johnson.

In a matter that sparked public debate, Maddox had earlier suspended Johnson on April 28, for wearing blue jeans on the job, and for what Maddox called disrespect of the office of mayor.

In an appeal hearing on May 13, the council upheld the suspension, but reduced it from five days without pay, to 2 1/2 days without pay.

Maddox confirmed Thursday that the city had been served with the suit. "The city's position is clear," said Maddox, who referred all further questions to the city's attorney, Steve Fincher.

Fincher could not be reached on Thursday.

The suit, filed by Johnson's attorney, Keith Martin, argues that Johnson was not a "work test" or probationary employee, according to the city charter, and therefore, could not be fired based upon completion of a "work test."

The suit also states that Maddox said under oath, during the suspension-appeal hearing, that he suspended Johnson for insubordination. However, the suit points out that Maddox also admitted that he never gave an order, or directive, that Johnson did not obey.

Maddox said Thursday that Maj. Tim Jessup continues to head the police department in the absence of a police chief. However, Maddox said the city has not begun a search for a new police chief.

Johnson's attorney, Keith Martin, could not be reached for comment on Thursday.

The city has 30 days to file a response with the court.