Selma mayor proposes sales tax hike one day after ambush of police officer

Selma police officer shot in 'ambush' identified

SELMA, AL (WSFA) - WSFA 12 News learned Monday doctors released officer Michael Hale from the hospital in Birmingham late Sunday and he is now at home recuperating; a close call for the 10-year veteran who took a high-powered rife bullet to the chest.

“By the grace of God. Had it been one inch over, I don’t think Michael would be with us today," said Selma Mayor Darrio Melton.

The ambush Sunday morning has galvanized Melton and his allies to propose a one-cent sales tax hike increase for the city. The mayor said such an increase would generate $2.2 million a year for the police and fire departments, but it was clear Monday, the police department and what happened to Michael Hale took center stage on the city hall steps.

Mayor Melton said he would dedicate a significant portion of the funds to buying rifle-graded vests for the police department. The department either doesn’t have enough protective vests or they’re outdated.

“The question needs to be asked, ‘How much is a life worth?' That’s the question that needs to be asked," said Melton.

“And we’re here today to stand to let you know and the community know, it is not right," said Selma Police Department Capt. Natasha Fowlkes.

The small crowd that gathered in front of city hall included pastor Otis Culliver. He fell short of outright supporting a sales tax increase but made it plain something needs to be done.

“Because they literally stand between us and anarchy,” said Pastor Culliver.

It’s unclear at the moment whether the Selma City Council will go along with the mayor’s idea. Both have had their disagreements lately. What is clear is Michael Hale was fortunate. He is expected to make a full recovery.

The city’s current sales tax rate is 4.5 percent. The city council could take up the mayor’s proposal Tuesday night during its regular meeting at city hall.

State investigators have taken over the investigation. We’ve learned so far the four suspects who ambushed officer Hale may have followed him starting from the Edmund Pettis Bridge to just a few blocks up Broad where he was shot. As of Monday, no one has been arrested in connection to the case. Still unknown is why the suspects targeted officer Hale. Melton said the 39-year old officer will return to duty in a few weeks.

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