Officers in Vicksburg incident delay appeal

November 20, 2009 11:37:00 AM

Allen Baswell - [email protected]


The appeal case of four Columbus police officers who lost a month''s salary after a May 5 incident at the Vicksburg National Military Park has been continued until the February term of Lowndes County Circuit Court, according to Circuit Court Administrator Dorothy Langford. 


"The parties worked out an agreement to continue the case. An order has been filed, and I gave them dates in February to schedule the hearing," she said. 


The court filing was not available this morning. 


Sixteenth Circuit Judge Lee Howard was scheduled to hear arguments on behalf of officers Wade Beard, Heath Beard, Robert Walker and Cpl. Spence Wallingford. 


The four were suspended from work after being called back from a three-day field sobriety training course in Vicksburg sponsored by the Sobriety Trained Officers Representing Mississippi.  


Columbus Police Chief Joseph St. John requested the officers return to Columbus after he received complaints from the military park. 


A park ranger and visitors reported the officers, along with a Lowndes County sheriff''s deputy and his fiancĂ©e, were riding around in a marker police cruiser with the doors open, flashing its lights and bumping the siren. Additionally, two people were riding in the trunk. 


The policemen previously lost an appeal to the Columbus Civil Commission in the matter. 


The officers were suspended for 15 days -- which equates to about a month and more than $3,000 in pay. 


Reasons cited for the officers'' suspension were driving without a seat belt, violating standard operation of a city vehicle and conduct unbecoming of an officer.

Allen Baswell is a former staff reporter for The Dispatch