By Danza Johnson/NEMS Daily Journal
3:09 p.m.: Robert Hall resigned from the Tupelo Police Department Friday afternoon.
He made a short statement in a press conference that lasted about nine minutes.
Hall said he was very disappointed about the Board of Standards and Training decision in Pearl on Thursday to deny his law enforcement recertification. Hall said he has a love for Tupelo and he will be around and be a part of the community.
“When I was given an opportunity to return to my chosen profession for which I had trained and dedicated my life I was so pleased to do so,” Hall said. “However, with yesterday’s decision by the board it is obvious to me that my future is not with the Tupelo Police Department. For that reason I am tendering my resignation to Police Chief Tony Carleton effective today. I am electing not to go through the appeals process.”
Tupelo Police Department Chief Tony Carleton also made a brief statement.
After Hall’s announcement one of his supporters Tupelo Ward 4 Councilwoman Nettie Davis looked at Tupelo Ward 3 Councilman Jim Newell and said, “I guess you are happy now Jim.” Newell didn’t respond.
Read more about this story in Saturday’s NEMS Daily Journal.
UPDATE: The Tupelo Police Department is having a 3 p.m. news conference today. The TPD is not saying what the press conference will be about.
Appeal last hope for Hall recertification
PEARL – Tupelo Deputy Police Chief Robert Hall has one last chance to regain his law enforcement certification.
After the Board of Standards and Training in Pearl on Thursday denied his recertification by a 10-1 vote, Hall and the city of Tupelo have 30 days to file an appeal with the Lee County Chancery Court.
Mayor Jack Reed Jr., who accompanied Hall to the hearing, said no decision had been made yet on whether to appeal. Hall had no comment on the decision.
The board’s decision came after eight hours of sworn testimony from supporters of his certification, as well as opponents.
Hall lost his certification when, while deputy police chief in 2007, he resigned amid legal problems. He was rehired in March of this year by new Police Chief Tony Carleton, who was among those speaking for Hall’s recertification Thursday.
Also speaking on Hall’s behalf were Reed, former police officer Cliff Hardy, Tupelo dentist Ed Holliday, former Tupelo Police Chief Billy White and Tupelo attorney Jim Waide.
Both Reed and Carleton said they were disappointed in the outcome.
“I feel like they didn’t take any of our evidence into consideration,” said Carleton. “They already had in their mind what they were going to do.”
Testimony and evidence also was presented by those opposed to Hall’s certification, particularly from Lee County District Attorney Johnny Young and former Assistant District Attorney Clay Joyner.
Young and Joyner both were critical of Hall’s rehiring. They discussed Hall’s resignation, which came after he pleaded guilty to two misdemeanor charges – accessory after the fact and obstruction of justice by information in connection with his releasing a hit-and-run suspect in May 2006. The hit-and-run accident caused serious injuries to a 14-year-old boy.
“Had I known Robert Hall would have been rehired under a new administration to the same job he resigned from after a guilty plea, I would have asked for his resignation to have been forever,” said Young. “I never would have thought he’d be hired back. A 14-year-old boy was left on the side of the road like a dog that night. It seemed like to Robert Hall that boy didn’t mean a thing.”
Carleton told the board he rehired Hall because he noticed dissension and other inconsistencies in the department. He said Hall had built a great rapport with the black community, had done a great job helping organize the department and had 20 years of exemplary service.
Reed also said minority relations with the city have been terrible and he believed Hall gave the department the best chance to bridge that gap.
Hardy, who sued the city of Tupelo and won after being forced to resign, defended Hall.
“I spoke up for Robert once and it cost me my career,” said Hardy, who spoke on Hall’s behalf at a 2006 racial reconciliation meeting. “Now I’ll stand here today and do it all over again with no problem.”
Hardy told the board that Hall was railroaded because he was black and a successful, high-ranking officer. He said other ranking officers within the department were jealous of Hall’s status.
“There was jealousy and racial animosity in the department towards Robert,” said Hardy. “I feel like that’s why all of this happened. Certain people saw this as an opportunity to get Robert out and took it.”
Lee County Sheriff Jim Johnson, a member of the board, verbally sparred with Hardy over statements he made about Hall interfering with the hit-and-run investigation due to an alleged rogue officer.
“So are you telling me that every black man that this officer arrests, Hall is going to go and let him out of jail?” Johnson said to Hardy.
Hall told the board that no matter how right or wrong people viewed his actions that night, he did it with the intention of having a fair investigation and to make sure that the city of Tupelo would be protected against a lawsuit.
As for his guilty plea on misdemeanor charges of obstruction of justice and accessory after the fact, Hall said he plead because he thought it was best for his family.
“At that time I’d gone from one of the most recognizable officers in the state to having to defend my freedom,” said Hall. “I had no source of income and a wife and three children to take care of. I faced at the time my word against those of five other officers. My luck was not running good at that time.”
So Hall said he decided to take a job with Community Development Foundation.