Ex-police officer’s dismissal upheld

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 7, 2003

Despite a personnel hearing before the Demopolis City Council in which one key witness contradicted previous testimony, former Police Officer Tony Gary was denied his old job. Along the way, defense attorneys believe racial bias played a role in Gary’s dismissal from the police force.

After an executive session, members of the Demopolis City Council voted unanimously on Thursday to uphold Police Chief Charles Avery’s termination of Gary, who was indicted and later convicted of assaulting a suspect with a flashlight on April 12, 2001.

Avery said he was "very much pleased" that the council backed him in the decision. He said the Demopolis police force is now moving on from an episode that has lasted more than two years.

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That doesn’t mean the issue of Gary’s termination will go away. Two attorneys with the prestigious firm of Berkowitz, Lefkovits, Isom&Kushner in Birmingham have represented Gary through the personnel hearings and will escort him to court on Aug. 11 when a trial is scheduled for Gary’s suit against the city.

Keith Andress and Steven Henry both said on Friday that they believe their client has been punished based on information that was incoherent and contradictory.

Upon learning Friday that their client had been denied his appeal to the Demopolis City Council, Andress said he was disappointed in the decision.

Among the testimony brought out by attorneys for Gary was the allegation that Avery punished different officers based on their race.

Henry also brought up allegations against one police officer who "pulled a shotgun on children."

Avery did not comment on those allegations, but said the scrutiny over police officers is at a new level.

Both Henry and Andress believe Gary will be vindicated in court.