Controversial police officer fired from the force -, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Controversial police officer fired from the force

April 29, 2004

Sylvester-- It's the result many people in Sylvester wanted after the death of a suspect in police custody. Assistant Police Chief Charles Thurmond has been fired. Thurmond and two other officers arrested Herman Jackson in February. Jackson died from injuries suffered during a struggle with police. The officers were cleared of wrongdoing but a lot of people support the decision to fire Thurmond.

The Sylvester mother we interviewed didn't want her face or her name revealed. She says she doesn't' want trouble with police but she does want to speak out about what she calls a history of harassment by Assistant Police Chief Charles Thurmond and a recent run-in he had with her 13-year-old son.

"He told someone to get this young man before I kill him," says the mother.

Harassing words she says were shocking but not surprising coming for Thurmond. She says many in the community feel the Assistant Chief used the power of his badge to bully citizens.

"He feels like their going to believe him over us," says the mother.

Thurmond's unpopularity with some, coupled with community unrest over the death of Herman Jackson, may be the reason the City Manager has now moved to fire Thurmond even after he and the other officers was acquitted in the Jackson's death.

"Basically it's due to politics and political pressure. I believe the NAACP has been active in calling for Officer Thurmond's resignation," says Howard Stiller Thurmond's attorney.

Stiller says the city blames his client because he was the senior officer and they say he should have gotten Jackson to the hospital sooner. But Thurmonds defense is that he was not the only person responsible for Jackson and the other officer should be held responsible. A message he hopes will be enough to get his job back.

Thurmond attorneys says if his client is not reinstated he may have grounds to sue the city on the basis of racial discrimination because the other two officers that keep their jobs were white.

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