NAACP makes police allegations

Published 12:48 pm Wednesday, September 20, 2006

By By Lisa Tindell – news writer
The Brewton NAACP has made claims of police brutality against an East Brewton couple, but Brewton Police Chief Monte McGougin said he has received no formal complaints of the incident.
&#8220What appeared to be a simple traffic stop turned into a problem,” said April Albright, an attorney with the Justice Group of Mobile. &#8220We will pursue remedies to keep this from happening again.”
The couple, who were charged with disorderly conduct, claim they were injured in the incident involving an East Brewton officer and a Brewton officer.
Neither the NAACP nor the couple has filed a formal complaint. Before a civil suit can be filed, the organization or the couple must file a written statement explaining the alleged injuries. The statement - called a verification of claim - would also have to be filed before further requests for investigation.
Albright and local NAACP President Anthony McKenzie spoke Tuesday on the steps of the East Brewton City Hall regarding the arrest of the East Brewton couple, Michael Palmer and Amber Ballard.
McKenzie said Palmer was pulled over in June by an East Brewton police officer who then called for assistance from a Brewton police officer. During the stop, McKenzie said, Palmer asked to call his mother on his cell phone. When Palmer was on the phone, McKenzie said, one officer kicked him and the other knocked him to the ground.
McKenzie claimed the alleged brutality extended to Ballard.
McGougin said he has no information concerning the case and has not received any complaints about it.
NAACP officials have also alleged police brutality in a separate incident involving only a Brewton police officer. McGougin said an investigation into the alleged incident revealed no need for further action to be taken by the department.
East Brewton Police Chief B.C. Cooper did not return phone calls to The Standard on Tuesday in reference to the alleged incident.
Albright said she plans to submit a verification of claim to both Brewton and East Brewton city officials following a hearing for the couple Oct. 3 on disorderly conduct charges.
McKenzie said the NAACP plans to take action in the case he says involves alleged brutality and harassment.
McKenzie said that since March, his office has received 72 complaints concerning the Brewton and East Brewton police departments involving alleged brutality and/or harassment.