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Council terminates officer who allegedly solicited minor

 

Zack Plair

 

The contents of this article have been modified since its original posting.

 

A recently hired Columbus Police Department officer being investigated for soliciting a minor in West Point has been fired. 

 

The Columbus City Council voted in executive session Tuesday to terminate Antjuan Jethrow -- a patrol officer CPD hired on April 2. 

 

CPD Chief Fred Shelton placed Jethrow on unpaid administrative leave on Friday, after West Point police detained Jethrow for questioning in the solicitation case.  

 

A Columbus city source with knowledge of the investigation told The Dispatch the incident involved a teenage male. The source said there may be additional investigations of Jethrow in other jurisdictions. 

 

Jethrow has not been booked in Clay County Jail, according to jail records. West Point police have not commented to The Dispatch about the case, citing an ongoing investigation. 

 

Lowndes County Sheriff's Office Chief Deputy Marc Miley told The Dispatch Jethrow was previously employed at Lowndes County Adult Detention Center. Jethrow left that job voluntarily before joining the city police force, Miley said. 

 

Also in executive session Tuesday, the council opted not to suspend Patrol Officer Rhonda Sanders for neglect of duty and dishonesty. 

 

Multiple city sources told The Dispatch Shelton had alleged Sanders' patrol car was dented at some point. When he confronted the officer, Shelton claims Sanders lied about how the car was dented, the sources said. 

 

Shelton had recommended a 10-day suspension, without pay, for Sanders, but the council instead referred the matter to CPD's accident review committee. Once that review is complete, the city council could reconsider discipline. 

 

The Dispatch obtained a copy of a memo Shelton sent to Sanders on March 17, which showed Shelton's intent to suspend Sanders for "failure to care for assigned equipment" because of damage to her patrol vehicle. The memo states a committee of three CPD supervisors discussed and reviewed the incident before Shelton opted to recommend the suspension. 

 

In January, days after Shelton assumed duty as police chief, he transferred Sanders to patrol duty. She had previously served for about five years as CPD's community relations officer. 

 

Shelton later issued a written reprimand to Sanders for confirming her position change to The Dispatch. 

 

Sanders hired Jackson-based attorney Francis Springer and appealed her duty transfer, but the city council in February unanimously supported the chief's staffing decision. 

 

On Tuesday, both Sanders and Springer attended the city council meeting. Neither would comment to The Dispatch.

 

Zack Plair is the managing editor for The Dispatch.

 

 

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