OXFORD —Former Saltillo Mayor Bill Williams has been dismissed as a defendant in a wrongful termination suit filed by an ex-police officer.
In September, former Assistant Police Chief Prentice Brown filed a First Amendment free speech retaliation complaint and a separate malicious interference claim against Williams and others.
The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal reports U.S. District Judge Glen Davidson this past week found that since Williams was not mayor when Brown was terminated, he played no role in the decision to fire and could not have violated Brown’s right to free speech.
On the malicious interference claim, the judge said there is a one-year statute of limitations on the claim. Brown’s lawsuit was filed one year and two months after the termination
Brown was suspended by Williams on June 13, 2013. He was fired on July 10, 2013, by current Mayor Rex Smith.
The city remains a defendant in the lawsuit.
Brown argues his firing was politically motivated and violated his First and 14th Amendment rights. His lawsuit was filed last fall in federal court in Oxford.
Brown worked for the Saltillo Police Department for 10 years. He was a vocal supporter of former Police Chief Steve Brooks’ Democratic bid for mayor. Williams chose not to run but supported fellow Republican Smith.
According to the lawsuit, Williams refused to give Brown a reason for the suspension. In interviews with local news media, Williams said the suspension was because Brooks’ supporters were intimidating political opponents which led to perceived infighting in the police department.
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