PRICHARD, Ala. (WPMI) - A restraining order against Prichard Police Chief Jimmie Gardner is expected be filed Friday to clear up confusion over Garnder's refusal to step down as chief despite receiving a termination later, a source with knowledge of the court action said.
Gardner confirmed late Thursday evening, he's been asked to appear in Mobile County Circuit Court Friday morning.
At issue is the termination letter hand-delivered to Gardner during a meeting Thursday morning. "This decision is made after careful thought and consideration for what I believe is for good cause and in the best interest of the city," the letter which was signed by Ephriam said. The Mayor, however, was absent from the meeting, Gardner said. Instead Gardner was greeted by Chief of Staff Eddie Brown, the mayor's bodyguard, Lawrence Cowley and police captains Dorothy Farrell and Charles Kennedy.
"They were advised that they were Acting Chief-slash-Assistant Chief-slash-Captain and whatever else they were named in this process," Gardner told Local 15 News Reporter Derrick Rose, "They've had meetings with personnel in the [police] department advising them they were no longer to adhere to my commands as the Chief of Police."
The letter appointed Cowley as Gardner's separation liaison and said Cowley would provide Gardner a receipt for city owned property he returned. Gardner took the letter but continued to wear his uniform, badge and gun Thursday, speaking to Local 15 from the office of the chief.
Gardner said the proper protocol to remove him from his post was not followed. He pointed to an Alabama code regarding chiefs which said they "shall be removed from office only upon recommendation of the mayor with the approval of four council members."
When asked if Gardner was still the Chief of Police despite the letter, an attorney speaking for Ephriam replied, "He is not." That attorney, Jerome Carter, said a transition team was already in place within the Police Department. He said Ephriam does have the power to fire any city employee at will. He said the process to clear up the confusion had already begun, but would not elaborate on what the plans were.
Gardner and the source said Carter's next move was to file a restraining order against Gardner for his defiance.
Ephriam, who was not in his office Thursday, could not be immediately reached for comment. The mayor had previously voiced displeasure with the previous council's approval to extend Gardner's contract.
Gardner said he would appear Friday morning at 11am without an attorney.