Any decision to rehire Hardy, said city attorney John Hill, should come from the department’s new chief and not from a judge.
Lee County Sheriff’s Capt. Tony Carleton was hired as Tupelo’s next police chief but won’t start work until Jan. 1. He’s replacing retiring Chief Harold Chaffin.
Carleton told the Daily Journal on Wednesday he hadn’t had a chance to discuss the situation with the mayor or city attorneys and thus had no comment.
But Hardy’s attorney, Jim Waide, said his client should return to work regardless.
“There is no legitimate reason not to have Cliff Hardy down there,” Waide said, adding that if Carleton “doesn’t get some help in changing their practices they’ll have the same problems they had in the past.”
Hardy won a federal lawsuit against the city in July. He claimed he was forced from his job after publicly defending former Assistant Chief Robert Hall against what he believed to be racial discrimination.
A jury awarded Hardy $300,000 – about two-thirds of which represented lost future earnings. The rest was for back pay.
But in November, Hardy’s attorney filed a motion asking that the former policeman get his old job back in lieu of future earnings. U.S. District Judge Sharion Aycock gave the city until Dec. 22 to respond.
Contact Emily Le Coz at (662) 678-1588 or firstname.lastname@example.org.