PRICHARD, Ala. (WALA) - Prichard Police Chief Jimmie Gardner was ordered to vacate his office on Tuesday after a Mobile County Judge approved a temporary restraining order (TRO) against him.
The TRO orders that Gardner immediately vacate his office and not enter any property of the City of Prichard.
Prichard Mayor Troy Ephriam applied for the order, which was approved on Dec. 26.
The order, ruled on by Judge Charles Graddick, says "The facts of this case are not in dispute, the law is."
The TRO says the City of Prichard, listed as the plaintiff in the case, contends that Gardner's two-year contract with the city expired on Nov. 20. After that, it says, he became an "at will" employee of the city.
Gardner said that under the Code of Alabama, the mayor cannot fire him without "good cause."
The order says a preliminary hearing or trial will be required to judge the merits of the case; the court says there is a "substantial likelihood of [the City of Prichard] prevailing on the merits of the claim."
During a hearing last week, the city testified that Gardner locked himself in his office and refused to leave when the termination letter was delivered.
"In effect, the defendant is telling the entire police force of Prichard, if not all the employees of Prichard, that if you do not like the order of your supervisor, just ignore or disobey it and barricade yourself in your office," the order says.
It goes on to say, "The court sincerely hopes that the Defendant's actions were merely a publicity stunt and not meant to actually signal that he intended to hold on to his position and office by force if necessary."
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