5:31 p.m: Hall’s recertification has been denied by the Board on Law Enforcement Officer Standards and Training Thursday in Jackson.
Hall’s last recourse is an appeal through the Lee County Chancery Court.
The vote today was 10-1.
Hall did not speak after the decision was announced and Mayor Jack Reed said he would not talk about what’s next at this point, but would address it later.
Read more about this story in Friday’s NEMS Daily Journal newspaper.
5:05 p.m.: Testimony done. The board has gone into executive session.
4:16 p.m.: The hearing has taken a break and Robert Hall is expected to resume testifying again shortly.
During the questioning that just took place he was asked – why he pleaded guilty if he was innocent?
Robert Hall answered:”At that time I had gone from being one of the most recognizable officers in the state to having to defend my freedom. I had no source of income and a wife and three children to take care of. … I faced my word against five other officers. … I made a choice for my family to plead guilty and to stay out of jail, so I could move forward with my life.”
Hall said he had a job offer from CDF, so he pleaded guilty and took the job.
Hall said in questioning he never ordered any officer to change an incident report from a felony to no offense status in the hit-and-run case.
Hall said he has always done his job even arresting family members when necessary in the past.
3:39 p.m.: Robert Hall is testifying now.
3:24 p.m.: Mayor Jack Reed Jr. is testifying now. Reed said Sheriff Johnson’s insinuation that he forced Carleton to hire Hall is not true. Reed said Hall has helped to bring racial harmony back to the city and allows Tupelo to be safer.
2:22 p.m.: Former Tupelo Police Officer and friend of Robert Hall Cliff Hardy just testified. Hardy said he believed jealousy and racial anomisity by certain factions in the department led to Hall being fired. He said the firing was politically motivated.
Hardy also said one of the reasons Hall did what he did at the hit-and-run was because one of the officers on the scene had a reputation for mistreating blacks and had been talked to by the department.
Lee County Sheriff Jim Johnson then asked if every time that officer arrested a black man if it was Hall’s job to turn him loose.
Hardy said, “That is a ridiculous statement what brought you to that conclusion?”
Johnson said that is what he understood Hardy to be saying.
Hardy said that is not what he was saying and he was sorry Johnson got that out of his testimony. He added he didn’t understand how Sheriff Johnson felt that way
Attorney Jim Waide is next to testify, then Mayor Jack Reed and then Robert Hall.
1:20 p.m. – Tupelo Police Chief Tony Carleton told the board he re-hired Hall because he noticed dissension and other inconsistencies in the department. That Hall had built a great rapport with the black community, had done a great job helping organize the department and had twenty years of exemplary service.
Lee County Sheriff Jim Johnson, a member of the board, asked Carleton, if he had any talks with Jack Reed Jr. prior to hiring Hall. Carleton said it was his sole decision.
Carleton was also asked by a board member why he hasn’t talked to the family of victim. Carleton said he didn’t see any need after Jamison Shell served his time and Robert Hall had gotten his punishment.
11 a.m.: The hearing to see if Tupelo Deputy Police Chief Robert Hall can win back his law enforcement certificate has started in Pearl.
District Attorney John Young testified that giving Hall back his certification could open other cases.
“Never would I have thought Hall would have been hired back … this is not the kind of officer you need out there handling cases,” Young said.
Hall had a certificate during his first 25-year stint with the Tupelo Police Department. But he relinquished it after pleading guilty in the Lee County Circuit Court to two misdemeanors – accessory after the fact and obstruction of justice by information in connection with his releasing a hit-and-run suspect in May 2006.
He resigned immediately after entering the pleas.
The driver in that incident was later charged and served time in prison.
Former Assistant District Attorney Clay Joyner also testified Thursday. He said the victim’s mother earlier testified to a grand jury Hall contacted her to see if a financial settlement could be reached.
Tupelo City Attorney John Hill asked Joyner why that wasn’t mentioned in the indictment against Hall. Joyner said there was stronger evidence.
Hill also said during the morning questioning that Hall told the officers to continue the investigation of the hit-and-run.
Hill presented letters from several citizens in Tupelo supporting Hall. They included – former Mayor Larry Otis, Doyce Deas, Community Development Foundation’s David Rumbarger and others.
Hall, who was rehired to his former position in March, faces a potentially lengthy hearing before the 13-member Board on Law Enforcement Officer Standards and Training at its office near Jackson.
He must persuade the group to reissue the certificate he relinquished upon resigning from the police force in 2007 amid legal problems.
Now Hall and his supporters must convince the board that his exemplary record before the resignation outweighs the negativity of his criminal charges.
The process could last anywhere from 45 minutes to all day.
If the board denies the certificate today, the city’s last recourse is an appeal through the Lee County Chancery Court.
The hearing is still going on. More as it is available.
NEMS Daily Journal