Fourth APD officer suspected of law breaking - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Fourth APD officer suspected of law breaking

August 4, 2004

Albany-- There is more unwelcome news for the Albany Police department. On the heels of a rash of morale-sapping arrests of officers, a rookie cop has been dismissed from the force.

The officer was fired but hasn't been charge Patrolman Zach Bradford worked for Albany Police less than six months. So when he was fired Monday, the reason was "without cause" because he was still on employment probation.

But WALB News 10 has learned what really prompted his firing-- an allegation of theft by the owner of an East Albany repair shop who says Officer Bradford stole from him.

A 1968 Chevrolet Impala sits in the backyard of A&D Engine Rebuilders on Krugg Street. Shop owner Jim Wheeler says three months ago he found Albany Police Officer Zach Bradford looking at the wreck. "He had the hood open, and he was looking at the particular part, the hood hinge,that holds the hood up. And before I knew it, he had disappeared," Wheeler said.

Someone broke into the business a couple of days later and the hinge Officer Bradford had asked to buy was stolen. "We noticed the nuts and bolts sitting on the fender over there. We opened the hood and we could see that it was missing, and the first thing I did was call the Police Department," Wheeler said.

Internal Affair officers launched an investigation. "You don't come looking for a part for a 1968 vehicle, and all the sudden two days later that part is missing off this vehicle," said Wheeler.

Wheeler says even though he reported the theft three months ago, he never heard back from police. "It's obvious this is not an isolated incident. You know It's something been going on around."

He didn't even know Bradford had been fired until contacted by WALB. No criminal charges have been filed against Officer Bradford.

This is the fourth Albany Police officer recently accused of a crime. In June, Officer James Thomas was convicted of theft. He stole the wallet off a man lying badly injured in the street after a motorcycle wreck. Thomas is awaiting sentencing.

Last Tuesday, officer Melissa Albritten was arrested and charged with shoplifting. Investigators say she headed up a multi-city shoplifting ring and even stole while in her APD uniform. She's suspended with pay.

And then, Friday, Officer Thomas Mullen was arrested and charged with domestic violence for shoving his pregnant wife, who is also an Albany Police Officer.

Tuesday, the city commission called for an investigation into how the police department is run.

posted at 4:30PM by dave.miller@walb.com

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