South Pittsburg mayor talks to Channel 3 after police sergeant fired
Channel 3 is learning more about why a South Pittsburg police sergeant was fired days after arresting the city administrator for speeding.
Last Friday, Sammy Burrows was charged with speeding, reckless driving, resisting arrest and obstruction of an officer. This, after he was pulled over going 72 in a 35 mph zone.
Then the city commission voted Tuesday unanimously to fire city Police Sergeant Paul West.
Part of Friday night's incident was caught on camera. Sergeant Paul West was wearing a body camera to record the arrest of the city administrator. And when Mayor Jane Dawkins and the rest of the city commission watched it, they decided the Sergeant was out of line.
"Officers are to treat everyone civilly and respectfully at all times," she said.
Mayor Dawkins told Channel 3 Sergeant West showed no respect on Friday night. She and the entire commission voted four days later to fire him. She said West at one point in the video said to "take this job and shove it."
"There was a very offensive reference to the board which said to me, 'this officer wishes to be relieved of his duties,'" she said.
All this goes back to last Friday night when city officer Ben Canales pulled Burrows over after clocking him going 72 in a 35. Sergeant West rolled in as backup. And in his incident report states that Burrows was "becoming more belligerent and aggressive in his speech and body language by the minute."
The report goes on saying the pair had to wrestle Burrows up against the patrol car to try and handcuff Burrows but it wasn't until they threatened to tase the local leader that they finally got him in the patrol car.
But the mayor said she thinks West was using "undue physical force and verbal abuse."
"I felt it was an inappropriate reaction to the situation," she said.
Mayor Dawkins said she didn't see Burrows resisting arrest in the video and that she's pleased with how her city handled the ordeal.
"Is there anything that I personally would have done differently? No sir, there is not," she said.
Channel 3 visited Commissioner Ronnie Lancaster's home Thursday morning. Lancaster made the motion Tuesday to relieve Sgt. West of his duties. He said, "In my 41 years in law enforcement, you don't need to treat anyone like that."
Channel 3 requested a copy of that video and will let you know once we get it.
This is not the first time Paul West has been in the news. In 2007, he was fired as Jasper's fire chief after talking with Channel 3 about problems within his department.
We left a message with both West and Burrows Thursday afternoon for comment but have not heard back.