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Fired police chief Bingham sues West Point

 

Jason Browne

 

WEST POINT -- Former West Point Police Chief Steve Bingham has filed a lawsuit against the city of West Point and four members of the Board of Selectmen alleging wrongful discharge, defamation and infliction of emotional distress on the basis of race. 

 

The suit, filed May 5 in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Mississippi, names Ward 1 Selectman Rod Bobo, Ward 2 Selectman Homer Cannon, Ward 3 Selectman Charles Collins and Ward 5 Selectman Jasper Pittman as defendants along with the city. Bingham accuses the selectmen of firing him Aug. 11 due to his race and their desire to replace him with a black candidate. 

 

Bingham goes on to accuse the selectmen of firing other white city employees for similar reasons. 

 

Pittman, the only defendant reached by phone Wednesday, pointed out the majority-black city board fired four black public works employees prior to firing Bingham and has since hired two white employees to high-ranking jobs at the city electric department. 

 

"We fired four blacks before we fired Bingham, so how racist are we?" said Pittman. 

 

The lawsuit also alleges the selectmen were motivated to fire Bingham "in part by (Bingham''s) resistance to the efforts by some of the defendants (to) continue in a course of illegal activity with impunity because of their status as selectmen. (Bingham) reported that illegal activity and attempted to end the illegal activity by using the power of his position as chief of police." 

 

The complaint does not specify the alleged illegal activity, and Pittman said he has no idea what the accusation is regarding. 

 

The lawsuit goes on to accuse the selectmen of defaming Bingham to third parties, claiming he was incompetent, had falsified records and reported false crime statistics in an effort to maintain his position. 

 

After Bingham''s dismissal, he claims, the selectmen were contacted by the city of Booneville about the possibility of hiring Bingham, but the selectmen told a Booneville representative Bingham was a convicted felon in addition to the prior allegations. 

 

Bingham filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and received a letter from the EEOC April 13 granting him "the right to institute a civil action." He is being represented in the suit by Robert Sanders of Young Williams P.A. in Jackson. 

 

The suit claims that, as a result of his firing, Bingham has "suffered actionable emotional distress, loss of income, loss of other benefits associated with his former employment and other damages by reason of this illegal conduct by the city of West Point." 

 

It goes on to claim the defamation maliciously carried out by the selectmen exposed Bingham to "public hatred, contempt, or ridicule and degraded him in society, and lessened Bingham in public esteem and lowered public confidence in him in West Point." 

 

The suit demands compensatory damages, punitive damages, legal fees and an award of back pay along with the value of lost benefits including medical insurance and retirement benefits to be awarded by a jury. 

 

Pittman, who has received a summons regarding the suit, maintains the allegations are false and race played no role in Bingham''s firing. Furthermore, he said, an unspecified contingent in West Point is funding Bingham''s suit. 

 

"There are certain people in the community who are instigating this lawsuit. They''re financially instigating it," said Pittman. "People need jobs around here. We need to quit trying to instigate and move forward and bind this city together." 

 

Mayor Scott Ross deferred comment to City Attorney Orlando Richmond. Messages left for Richmond were not immediately returned.

 

 

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Reader Comments

Article Comment David commented at 5/21/2010 7:20:00 AM:

Does everything have to be made into a race issue? Can't someone on the board or the Mayor tell the voters why Mr. Bingham was fired so there isn't any reason for name calling and race issues?
Where's the secret?

 

Article Comment JD commented at 5/21/2010 10:29:00 AM:

No, they can't tell you why, b/c it would incriminate them if they did.

This is one of the most corrupt boards in the State of Mississippi. I wonder how many more lawsuits will be filed by the time this Boards term is up?

 

Article Comment bob commented at 5/21/2010 10:47:00 AM:

WE WANT KENNY! WE WANT KENNY! WE WANT KENNY!

 

Article Comment Proctor commented at 5/21/2010 2:43:00 PM:

The former administration was no better. If you knew their dealings you would not cheer so loud.

BB...why would Bingham name anybody at this time? The board is keeping quiet so why would Bingham show his hand? Since you have so much evidence why don't you go after them?

 

Article Comment T1000 commented at 5/21/2010 3:07:00 PM:

This guy is dumber and more hard headed than I thought.Hes been kicked out of 2 towns for this same thing before (odd isnt it) I guess hes a slow learner or thinks he can do whatever he wonts.The man cant get it threw his thick skull,Its over,move on.Hes not helping Westpoint,Hes makeing us look like near by towns with fist fighting Mayors.Even if by some great miracle he does win his law suit against the city...Where do you think the city is going to get the money to pay him????They dont give out grants for lawsuits, Our tax dollars we pay the city will, so the people who are secretly helping him are shooting themselves in the foot and will have to pay the bill, money that needs to be spent on a list of other things,while Mr Bingham leaves town with "The citys" money In his pocket.I know someone is going to disagree with me (They always do) but I have the right to my opinion and so do you.

 

Article Comment BB commented at 5/21/2010 4:51:00 PM:

I can't go after anyone or fear the fall out..BUTTTT..anyone interested in coming can be at the clay county courthouse on June 4th at 9 for Judge Hampton's Justice court. Something will be happening there that might put some stuff into motion. People from MADD are coming as well as NAACP and Columbus Packet and Dispatch and a special person from Jackson. Two cases will be heard that have been put off for almost 2 years for people "connected" in West Point. So pass the word pack the courtroom and see if our prosecutor will go after them or let them slide. A lot of people will be watching this one. See ya there.

 

Article Comment Sad for West Point commented at 5/21/2010 4:51:00 PM:

Please tell me how many times in the history of West Point have the board and the city had law suits filed against them before this board took over? I have been here for many years and I can't remember any.
Does this not tell you something?

 

Article Comment DJ commented at 5/21/2010 4:56:00 PM:

After the way Bingham has been treated for trying to clean up our town he should leave town with everything he can get. Too bad Ross will be still be here.
As for lawsuits..when anyone comes in and doesn't play by the good ole boys rule..that stirs trouble and the ball starts rolling. This one is going to run a long way before it stops. Just curious as to who all it might knock down when it does.

 

Article Comment local commented at 5/21/2010 5:23:00 PM:

BB....Let me guess, the people on trial here are white..correct? Who all is involved or knew about all this? Clue us in..Sounds like it might be interesting. Did Bingham know about it or the Mayor?

 

Article Comment OldGuy commented at 5/21/2010 7:12:00 PM:

To T1000: I have some questions for you.

You said: "Hes been kicked out of 2 towns for this same thing before".

My question: For what? Enforcing the law? Trying to arrest drug dealers? What other two towns have boards that are as corrupt as ours?

You said: "thinks he can do whatever he wonts"

My question: Ignoring your grammar, who are you talking about here? Jasper Pitman? Charles Collins?

You said: "Even if by some great miracle he does win..."

My question: So you already realize there's something to the case, and he probably will win. And if he does win, what does that tell you? Maybe that the select Selectmen were WRONG?

You said: "the people who are secretly helping him..."

My question: Do you know this for a fact? Do you? Did you yourself hear someone say they are helping him, or did someone just tell you this? And you believed them? If I told you there was a body hanging inside the City Hall clock tower, would you just run around repeating it like it was true, just because I said it? Maybe I WANT you to go around saying it. Maybe it's part of my plan.

You said: "I know someone is going to disagree with me (They always do)"

My question: They always do? Do you wonder why?

You said: "but I have the right to my opinion and so do you"

My response: Yes you do, and so do I.

 

Article Comment West Point Citizen commented at 5/21/2010 8:49:00 PM:

The NAACP will be at the courthouse? No thanks, I think I will pass !! That is probably the most obvious racist group in the country.

 

Article Comment DJ commented at 5/22/2010 6:19:00 AM:

Hey I heard their attorney was from..Ross Kelly & Hosford. Anybody know if that is true or which one it is?
Who are these guys?

 

Article Comment west point resident commented at 5/22/2010 4:41:00 PM:

MADD, NAACP, and special guy from Jackson?? Is this starting to sound like a witch hunt to anybody but me??

 

Article Comment Blake commented at 5/22/2010 5:30:00 PM:

Let's just say that the mayor and entire board all had DUIs. As far as political careers are concerned WHO CARES?? Their have been other political people in WP that have gotten DUIs and it has not made ANY difference and this one won't either.

From an ethical standpoint it is not great but from a judiciary or political standpoint it really makes no difference.

Have you guys got anything else ???

 

Article Comment Paulette commented at 5/22/2010 5:47:00 PM:

I would have to agree Blake. A DUI in this day and age have little or nothing to do with a political career. This is basically a non-issue.

 

Article Comment local commented at 5/22/2010 6:32:00 PM:

Yes a lot of people have gotten DUI's and have had to pay for their tickets and do their classes. But it seems if you know someone you can get out of it. Anybody that has gotten a ticket and had to face a trial should be very angry that certain people get special treatment. Maybe if they get burned this time some of it might stop.
Judges,lawyers,Mayors, selectmen...that have to follow the law...or that is what they were elected to do. And what if all this was just the tip of the iceberg. THIS IS NO WITCH HUNT..It took all these people to get these 2 guys to trial. WHY??

 

Article Comment JT commented at 5/22/2010 10:10:00 PM:

One guy got off his first DUI almost 3 years ago. The other guy has already been found guilty of public drunk, etc. These people got tickets in aug. 2008 and are only being brought to trial because of people pushing for it. no tag, no insurance DUI. No punishment.come on..they never even lost their license. What would happen if it were you? Or if the next time they drive drunk they hurt someone you know or love.

 

Article Comment Blake commented at 5/23/2010 10:17:00 AM:

The point is not that they are going to trial the point is that NOTHING will come of it even if they are convicted. It is a DUI and does not make any difference when it comes to politics.

If they get the maximum penaly for their DUI it still does not matter. What are all you people geting so excited about?? It seems to me that a lot of people are so desperate for something bad to happen to the mayor due to the fact nothing has worked out for the "Dill crowd" for so long that people are chomping at the bit for what will amount to a non-issue.

The way to get rid of a political figure, if thats the plan, is to find someone VERY popular in the community and influence them to run. There are two or three people that could defeat the mayor and none of them ran in the last election. The names that come to mind are Bob Harrell, Robbie Robinson, and Luther Epting.

I can promise this court date will not change more than a small handful of votes in the next election. Though some good people voted for the mayor most of the people that voted him in are not overly concerned with a candidates morals.

 

Article Comment DJ commented at 5/23/2010 4:45:00 PM:

When will political people, police, lawyers all these people be held to the letter of the law they are suppose to uphold.
The facts of this trial are simple..A conviction will net a fine and course time for the state. No big deal. BUT BUT maybe just maybe it might strike a blow to let those in power know they can not continue to work the system to their favor. Note the term, Justice and for all not just those in power. Abuse of power. If these 2 are the first then maybe 2 more or 3 or maybe a fair and just system for all the people of West Point. No matter the color or gender. We just need to be able to stop the personal and political favors and get back to what this country was established for. It just might send a message to those people that someone is watching and maybe will start speaking up. If people aren't concerned with morals as you say, then those people have no right to complain when the bad things here get worse and maybe even happen to them or their loved ones.

 

Article Comment Boomer commented at 5/24/2010 10:26:00 AM:

This is a non-issue !!

 

Article Comment BB commented at 5/24/2010 9:40:00 PM:

Not so much of a non-issue if you consider that the man here who was fired knew of some of these wrong doings and tried to do something about them and was stopped by the Mayor and Board. And it had nothing to do with race. I hope he wins BIG money. He deserves it.

 

Article Comment S commented at 5/25/2010 9:23:00 PM:

Everyone knows what West Point is turning into.....let everyone do the crime but don't make em do the time. I believe it and hope he wins. I have seen how they operate over there. West Point Mayor and the board are very racist. They call black people "THEIR PEOPLE". Well what will happen is "your people will continue to do crime and no punishment will be handed down". Build a fence around West Point and call it prison.

 

Article Comment BB commented at 5/25/2010 11:33:00 PM:

These guys were WHITE and the people protecting them from trial were WHITE all but the prosecutor, she was, is BLACK. Not a race thing a political thing. But just as wrong.

 

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