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Tallassee mayor asks ALEA to investigate city police officer, two use-of-force incidents

Mayor Johnny Hammock said in a letter to ALEA that the two incidents have troubled him considerably.

A video of a handcuffed Black man being tasered by police despite showing no signs of resistance has caused outrage among Black residents in Tallassee.

Tallassee Mayor Johnny Hammock said Tuesday that he plans to formally ask the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency to investigate Tallassee Police Cpl. David Salum for excessive use of force during two separate arrests in recent weeks. 

Hammock shared with APR a letter he sent to ALEA Secretary Hal Taylor. In that letter, Hammock asks Taylor to open an investigation into Salum’s behavior and to provide guidance on how to proceed. Hammock said that Taylor asked only that the letter be sent on City of Tallassee letterhead and that a formal request is included. 

“I’m not going to allow this stuff to happen as long as I’m here,” said Hammock, who announced recently that he plans to resign as Tallassee’s mayor in July. “Until I’m out the door, we’re going to do things by the book.”

In the letter, Hammock details two separate incidents involving Salum, and other Tallassee Police officers. 

The first, Hammock writes, occurred a few weeks ago during the arrest of a man named Tony Brown. Brown attempted to run from police, both in his car and on foot, according to reports, before he was apprehended by TPD officers. 

However, Hammock’s letter to Taylor details essentially a police beating that left Brown hospitalized and requiring staples in five different locations on his head. During the altercation, Hammock writes, the officers’ body cams were turned off, in clear violation of department policy. 

“The pictures of Tony Brown and the report are very disturbing to me,” Hammock wrote. “This man was beaten severally and multiple staples put into his head.”

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Hammock said he asked current TPD chief Todd Buce to explain what happened, or why officers’ cameras were turned off, but has yet to receive a satisfactory answer. Hammock raised the possibility of a coverup. 

The second incident Hammock describes was the tasing on Sunday of a handcuffed man, Perry Jackson. Again, the officer involved was Salum. 

During that incident, which began with a “shots fired” call to a family party, police arrested Jackson for a misdemeanor warrant for failure to appear. Buce told a local TV station on Tuesday that Jackson initially tried to run from police, but witnesses at the party dispute that. 

Regardless, a video posted online shows Jackson being led to a squad car by two officers, including Salum. Once they reach the car, Jackson stands in the open car door as one officer pats him down. Jackson attempted, with his hands cuffed behind him, to toss his cell phone to another person. The phone allegedly struck Salum. 

The officers talk with Jackson for several additional seconds, during which Jackson does not appear to be combative. Then, seemingly without provocation, Salum takes a taser from the other officer, points it at Jackson, talks with him for several more seconds, then fires the taser prongs into Jackson’s chest. Jackson, who is still handcuffed, falls into the patrol car’s backseat, then to the ground, as his family members scream and cry in the background.  

Hammock said that after viewing the video, he phoned Buce and told him to place Salum on leave, and Hammock said he had every intention of firing Salum. However, he noticed on Monday evening that Buce had allowed Salum to stay active and work his normal nightshift. 

At that point, in an effort to keep Salum off the streets, Hammock said in his letter to Taylor that he planned to terminate Salum, who is still technically on probation with the TPD because he hasn’t yet been employed with the department for a full year. 

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Hammock said the city council is now intervening in the matter and asking Hammock not to fire Salum. Hammock and the council have a very well documented contentious relationship. 

Hammock said he’s been assured that ALEA will conduct an investigation into both incidents.

Josh Moon is an investigative reporter and featured columnist at the Alabama Political Reporter with years of political reporting experience in Alabama. You can email him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter.

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