Tirey opened his testimony by discussing policies and procedures of his office and the Walker County Civil Service Board. When asked by his attorney, Tina Burgett, about how he handles discipline within the sheriff’s office, Tirey said he will generally call employees into his office.
“Generally, I will ask them into my office. If I shut the door, it is usually a little more serious,” Tirey said. “I think that is a proper method and it was worked fairly well with me.”
Tirey said Hadder had been suspended once in his 15-year career at the sheriff’s office.
“He was involved in an incident at a Waffle House or Omelette Shoppe where he was suspended for two or three days,” Tirey said. “We’ve had numerous talks in my office where I tried to get him to do better and straighten up.”
During cross-examination, Gayle Gear, Hadder’s attorney, questioned Tirey about written disciplinary action in Hadder’s file.
“To be clear, there was only one written reprimand in his 15 years, and that was the 3-day suspension,” she said.
Reasons for Hadder’s termination were covered at length during Tirey’s testimony. He said Hadder broke several civil service board rules, which led to three separate civil lawsuits.
Jasper attorney Thomas Carmichael filed a civil suit in August on behalf of Gerald Garrison, a process server who was allegedly arrested by Hadder for attempting to serve him with a subpoena.
Two other suits were filed in late August.
One of the suits, filed by Jasper attorney Byron McMath, claimed Hadder verbally abused and threatened D’Arvy Shawn Franks in December 2011 before arresting and booking him for crimes that he says he did not participate in or have any knowledge about.
Carmichael and Nicholas Sparks filed a complaint on behalf of Kathy Sanford, claiming Hadder verbally and physically assaulted her at a Curry High School football game in 2011.
Gear suggested Tirey knew Hadder did not have a good relationship with Carmichael and Garrison.
“In a report to you, Mr. Hadder said he had received word from an informant that Carmichael would attempt to set him up with lawsuits,” she said.
Tirey said Hadder’s conduct during each of the incidents was reason for his firing. He said posts by Hadder on the Daily Mountain Eagle Facebook page were also evidence used in determining his termination.
“The posts are really what began this process,” Tirey said. “One post that caught my attention was from Adam, saying ‘He (Garrison) is lucky he is still breathing.’”
Gear said there were no specific complaints in the notification of termination.
Much of Tirey’s time on the stand was spent discussing written notification he sent to Hadder regarding his suspension and termination.
Gear said Hadder learned of his termination through media reports. Tirey said deputies had attemped to serve Hadder notification and it was sent through certified mail, was refused and returned to the sheriff’s office.
After the sheriff’s office rested its case, Gear moved for the civil service board to reinstate Hadder.
“We believe our objective has been achieved,” she said. “We have proven fatal flaws in the charges against Officer Hadder. We have shown a failure to notify him prior to the effective date of termination. This officer should be put back to work on that alone. Procedural flaws in this case are very clear. Who better than the sheriff to know how to extract discipline on an employee? Criminals are better treated, apparently, than a 15-year employee.”
Charles Stephens Sr., the attorney for the civil service board, said the group wants to hear the entire case. Stephens said the hearing will continue today at the Walker County Courthouse at 5 p.m.
Testimony began Monday with Franks talking about his December 2011 encounter with Hadder.
He said his charges were dropped by the Walker County District Attorney’s Office. Franks also said his civil suit against Hadder had been settled in his favor.