MUSCLE SHOALS — A former Muscle Shoals police officer fired for reportedly shooting and killing a deer on Tennessee Valley Authority property is appealing his termination to the city’s Civil Service Board.
Tuscumbia attorney Billy Underwood, who along with Florence attorney Johnnie Franks is representing Greg Scoggins, said he has filed necessary paperwork to notify the city and the Civil Service Board of the appeal.
Muscle Shoals City Attorney Marcel Black said the appeal before the five-member Civil Service Board will be 2 p.m. Jan. 17.
Underwood said the hearing will be open to the public. Scoggins was terminated Dec. 27.
City officials said he shot and killed a deer on TVA property that fronts Second Street. The incident reportedly occurred four days earlier while he was on duty.
Scoggins, who had worked with the department since 2001, was placed on administrative leave and later terminated.
Muscle Shoals Mayor David Bradford upheld the termination after an appeal to him last week. Bradford said at the time that Scoggins had 10 days to appeal the decision to the Civil Service Board.
In his letter notifying the city and the Civil Service Board of the appeal, Underwood points out several previous issues involving Police Department personnel that he said did not result in an officer being terminated. Among those incidents cited is a lawsuit filed against the city that accused officers of recklessly engaging in a high-speed case chase that resulted in a fatal accident, and allegations of sexual misconduct by on-duty officers.
Underwood also states officers were allowed to use their patrol cars while on duty to take and pick up their children at school and to handle personal errands.
Underwood, in the letter of appeal, states that Bradford, while a patrolman for the Police Department, went to an area on Gnat Pond Road, outside the city limits, and shot turtles from his patrol car. He said Bradford accidentally shot a hole in the patrol car but repaired it before reporting for duty the next day.
“He was not even cited in his personnel file,” Underwood said.
He said he is bringing up previous incidents because “the officers involved were not terminated for crimes much more harmful than killing a deer.”
Underwood said his client is asking the Civil Service Board to “render punishment that is befitting of the crime.”
“ ... punishment should not be his termination as a police officer,” Underwood states in the letter.
Bradford, when contacted about the appeal and the letter, said he would not respond to something that “doesn’t have anything to do with someone on federal property in violation of fish and game rules and regulations.”
Two weeks ago, after an investigation into the allegations, the Alabama Department of Conservation filed warrants charging Scoggins with reckless endangerment, hunting without a permit and hunting with the aid of a motor vehicle. The three charges are misdemeanors.
Reckless endangerment is punishable by a year in jail and a fine, if convicted, while the other two charges are punishable by fines.
Underwood said Scoggins doesn’t deny killing the deer on TVA property.
“They say my client violated police policy for having a weapon in his car that wasn’t police issued. I guess they passed that (rule) to protect the turtles and police cars from being shot,” Underwood said. “There seems to be selective prosecution in Muscle Shoals. They look one way for some police officers and another way for other officers.”
Tom Smith can be reached at 256-740-5757 or tom.smith@TimesDaily.com.