(PRICHARD, Ala.) - Uncertainty remains as to who is in charge of the Prichard Police Department as no ruling on a pending restraining order was made by close of business Monday.
Mobile County Circuit Court Judge Joseph Johnson on Friday said a ruling would be made no later than Christmas Eve on the restraining order filed against Prichard Police chief Jimmie Gardner. The order was being sought by Prichard Mayor Troy Ephriam after Gardner refused to leave his post despite being issued a termination letter by Chief of Staff Eddie Brown on behalf of the mayor.
Reached Monday by phone and email respectively Ephriam and City Attorney Jerome Carter said no order had been issued.
Gardner could not be immediately reached for comment.
Court documents show Ephriam contends a vote to extend Gardner's contract by the outgoing city council, of which Ephriam was part of before being sworn in as mayor, was not valid because it did not receive 4 approval votes by the council.
Ephriam voted against the measure, but it passed with a majority vote of 3. A spokesperson for the Alabama League of Municipalities told Local 15 News at the time the vote was in fact valid.
Still, the court records show, Ephriam contends since Gardner's initial contract has expired, the mayor has the authority to fire him.
In a response to the request for the restraining order, an attorney for Gardner echoed what the chief told Local 15 News Reporter Derrick Rose on Thursday, saying the mayor can only recommend a chief be fired, but the recommendation would have to be approved by four affirmative votes from the city council.