Suspended Abbeville police chief files suit against city

Suspended Abbeville police chief files suit against city

ABBEVILLE, Ala. (WSFA) - Abbeville’s police chief has taken legal action against city leaders after the council voted to suspend him without pay from his position.

The suit, filed Friday, names suspended police chief Noel Vanlandigham as the plaintiff and the city of Abbeville, Mayor Billy Helms, and the five commissioners as defendants.

Vanlandigham is represented by Dusty Fowler, of Buntin, Etheredge, & Fowler law firm.

The suit walks through a timeline of Vanlandingham’s interactions with the council - dating back to early May. It wasn’t until May 20 that the council initially voted to suspend Vanlandingham citing insubordination.

In a previous interview with WSFA, Mayor Helms said the tipping point was the chief meeting with a woman at his office who was involved in a controversial arrest conducted by Henry County Sheriff’s office.

Suspension appeal attempts by Vanlandingham were ultimately denied.

The suit claims the city council violated Vanlandigham’s employee rights, he was not given due process during the disciplinary process, and the suspension was in retaliation for meeting about the arrest, which they say violates his First Amendment rights.

Vanlandingham is seeking monetary compensation and claims defendants are responsible for lost wages, benefits, and his mental anguish and suffering because of the suspension.

WSFA reached out to Mayor Helms regarding the suit. He said he could potentially comment at a later date. He was still waiting to get a copy of the suit and was meeting with the council later Monday.

The chief’s suspension without pay started June 10 and will end June 20.

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