SELMA, AL (WSFA) - Three officers with the Selma Police Department have been arrested and charged with making false statements related to a matter under investigation by Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall’s Office. Details on the nature of the AG’s investigation have not been released.
Marshall’s office identified the arrested officers as
- Toriano Neely, also known as Tory Neely, 48, a lieutenant who supervised the department’s detectives;
- Jeffrey Hardy, also known as Jeff Hardy, 45, a sergeant under Neely’s supervision; and
- Kendall Thomas, 38, a sergeant formerly under Neely’s supervision.
Neely, Hardy and Thomas were indicted on Thursday by a Dallas County grand jury. Each surrendered Friday morning at the Dallas County Jail.
All three officers have been on administrative leave from the Selma Police Department since September.
The officers are being represented by Montgomery attorney Julian McPhillips. McPhillips held a news conference on Friday to discuss the case. McPhillips said at the press conference that his clients don’t know why they were arrested, and neither does he.
“The truth is, they still don’t know what they’ve been charged with,” McPhillips said. “When they were put on administrative leave, we sent a letter to the mayor demanding and asking him to tell us why they were arrested."
McPhillips said he believes the officers' arrests had to do with an article published by the Selma Times Journal. In that article it is stated that “Lt. Neely allegedly conspired with Sgt. Thomas and Sgt. Hardy, with civilian employee Keisha Parker, to intercept the mail of another Selma Police Department employee.” The article goes on to say that once the officers intercepted the mail, it “was turned over to a local radio talk show host.”
“All we know is back in September, the Selma Times Journal had some kind of article about how these gentlemen had something to do with mail being turned over to a local radio talk show host," McPhillips said. “I guess there must have been something in a radio talk show that you know was said, and you know somehow the mayor must’ve gotten offended because he put Chief Collier on it. The best information we have is from the September 27 edition of the Selma Times Journal."
But that’s all that he knows.
“I mean this was back in late September and here we are now in early November. I mean they should have told us something by now. We wrote a letter begging them to tell us, so it’s not like we’ve just been sitting around twiddling our thumbs, we’ve been wanting to know," McPhillips said.
McPhillips said he blames Selma’s mayor, Darrio Melton, for the officers' arrests.
“I think it’s the mayor and the state attorney general who got somehow confused and are working together. The very thing that they’re charging these three with, that I’ve read to you, is the very thing that they themselves are doing and it’s time for this kind of hypocrisy to stop,” McPhillips said. “I think it’s not so much Mr. Collier’s fault as it is Mayor Darrio Melton’s fault. He’s the one that’s been pushing all of this.”
McPhillips compared the officers' arrest to something that would happen in “communist China.”
“I mean this is like something that happens in the old Soviet Union or in communist China where you get charged, but you don’t know what you’ve been charged with, so you just sort of have to deal with it,” McPhillips said.
To close the press conference, McPhillips stated that he believes Selma’s mayor should be impeached and that the three police officers should have all of the criminal charges against them dismissed and be reinstated immediately.
“This mayor, and whoever else he’s put behind the charges against these three gentlemen, needs to be ashamed of himself. He needs to repent and find a way to turn a city government around that has just gotten out of control,” McPhillips said. "We’re going to explore remedies and methods to have this mayor removed.”
That’s McPhillips' take on the three officers' arrests and convictions, but the Attorney General’s Office has another one.
The AG’s office said the three are charged specifically with knowingly falsifying, concealing or covering up material or making a false or fraudulent statement in a matter under investigation by the Attorney General’s Office.
Following the arrests, Selma Police Chief Spencer Collier reacted to the news saying:
The charge is a class C felony that holds a penalty of up to 10 years in prison.