MOBILE, Ala. (WALA) - A Mobile County judge ruled Prichard City Police Chief Jimmy Gardner's termination was lawful.
Judge Charles Graddick said on Wednesday, January 16, that since Gardner's contract was expired and he was acting at the mayor's will, the mayor did not need to give a reason for his termination nor bring it before the city council.
Even though the court sided with Mayor Troy Ephraim, many Prichard citizens said he was wrong, and it was more about the pair's personal feud than the safety of the citizens.
Ephraim, however, denies his decision to fire Gardner was personal. He ousted Gardner in December.
"It was our decision. We wanted to take a different approach, take a different direction," said Ephriam.
Since the termination letter was placed on Gardner's desk, it's been a battle in the courtroom.
Ephriam said it was a contract issue. Gardner said it was retaliation.
Gardner claims the firing came after he had pursued an ethics violation complaint against the mayor.
"That's not the facts. That's not the truth," said Ephriam.
The complaint accused Ephraim of using city gas for personal use and allowing a volunteer to use city property.
"There are no issues. There may have been a complaint filed, but there's nothing here we're aware of that would be a violation that would of come out even in regards to that. So were beyond that, and that's certainly not the case," said Ephriam.
Severia Campbell Morris and the United Concerned Citizens of Prichard are championing an effort to get the mayor recalled.
"We believe in the will of the people. And when the people speak, we are the same people that elected you to office and you came around and you asked for our support to give you an opportunity to represent us. And once you get in office you deny that, you betray us," said Morris.
There are two interim chiefs right now. The mayor said they will have an interview process to find the next chief.
Morris and her group are collecting signatures to get the mayor recalled, and to push the ethics allegations to the district attorney.
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