BALDWIN COUNTY, Ala (WALA) – Spanish Fort Mayor Mike McMillan, who was accused of slapping a city employee last year, was found not guilty of the incident on Friday. McMillan was facing a misdemeanor harassment charge.
The not guilty verdict was delivered just before 3:30pm. Judge James Reid said that there was reasonable doubt.
Surveillance video of the alleged incident was shown several times. What was played in court was much clearer then the version leaked on Facebook. It is also an original copy. The defense also presented an edited version that shows a closer up view.
The alleged victim, Lyndsey Cooper a now-fired city employee, was the first to take the stand. Cooper testified that the alleged slap happened after she laughed at McMillan. Cooper says McMillan tried to swipe a computer screen with his hand and she giggled. Cooper says it happened during a conversation about the city’s website on October 1st, 2019.
Cooper issued this statement in response to the verdict.
"I am disappointed in the verdict, but want to thank the Baldwin County Sheriff's Department and the District Attorney's office for taking my case seriously and issuing the criminal complaint against the Mayor. There was no jury and it was ultimately up to a sole trier of fact, a former presiding judge in Baldwin County who formed his opinion in spite of clear video evidence and who would not allow in other key pieces of evidence against the Mayor. The law does not allow me to appeal the verdict in criminal court. However, I also want to thank my family, friends and other supporters who gave me the courage to follow through with this even after I was punished by the City for doing so, losing my job and pension after almost ten years of working for Spanish Fort because I filed this criminal complaint against the Mayor. I am deeply grateful for the continued support."
Another city employee, Carol Caldwell, testified she was standing just feet from McMillan and Cooper, but did not see or hear a slap. She said she believes it happened after watching the video.
Retired Spanish Fort Police Chief David Edgar testified that McMillan called him after the incident and said he "had a blow up" at city hall.
Cooper says she was able to access the video and saw the alleged incident. After being pressed by Donald Briskman, McMillan’s attorney, Cooper admitted forgetting the password and lying to get the password to watch it.
After the afternoon lunch break, around 2:30 pm, Spanish Fort Mayor Mike McMillan took the stand in his own defense.
“I’m very happy with the outcome, I knew the truth would come out,” McMillan said.
“Pleased with the results, we had no doubt and we’re glad we finally got to put the facts on the record,” said Shawn Alves, one of McMillan’s defense attorneys.
McMillan says he did not hit Cooper and he was just talking with his hands.
“I just feel justice clearly was done the evidence was not consistent with anything, but reasonable doubt and that he didn’t do it,” Briskman said. “If you look at the video you can see that Mrs. Cooper’s head does not move so it’s totally consistent that there was not contact.”