Natchez police officer terminated

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 23, 2011

NATCHEZ — The Natchez Board of Aldermen approved Tuesday the termination of Dewayne Johnson, a recently convicted felon, from the Natchez Police Department.

The board met briefly in executive session at the end of its regular finance session to discuss the termination under the personnel exception of the Opens Meeting Act.

Johnson was found guilty March 2 of the theft of Jason Ellard’s credit cards — count four of an eight-count indictment in a week-long federal trial.

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The jury returned only two verdicts on the eight-count indictment.

Officer Elvis Prater, who was acquitted March 2 of count one, the beating of James Daniel Ellard, remains on unpaid administrative leave until remaining counts are retried in a new trial starting June 20.

Mayor Jake Middleton said Johnson was terminated for violation of the police personnel policy.

Police Chief Mike Mullins said policy calls for the dismissal of anyone convicted of any felony.

Johnson was indicted Aug. 20 for civil rights violations for witnessing the alleged brutality and failing to protect people in custody. Johnson was also indicted on one count of credit card theft and one count of conspiracy to use it.

In other news from Monday’s meeting:

4 Seven residents of the Brumfield Apartments, which were recently abandoned by its managing company, appeared at the board meeting.

Ward 4 Alderman Ernest “Tony” Fields asked Mullins to consider providing security at the apartment complex.

Middleton said he told Entergy officials the power in the hallways had been shut off to see what they could do about it.

Catholic Charities representative Cynthia Jackson offered Catholic Charities as a service to help the residents move out before March 30, the deadline to vacate the building.

“The clock is ticking,” Fields said. “We’re working hard for you (residents), but we still have questions that need to be answered.

4The board approved a change order for the North Natchez Drainage Project for $100,252.

City Engineer David Gardner said 75 percent of the change order will be reimbursed by the grant and 25 percent will come from the project’s budget.

The change order will also set back the completion of the project for 30 days, Gardner said.

Residents who live near the site of the construction appeared at the board to address concerns with damage to their properties and lawns as a result of the project.

Gardner said the contractor would not receive 5 percent of the payment for the multi-million dollar project until the areas affected are in the same or better condition than they were before the project began.

He said the project should be completed by mid-June or the first of July.

Ward 1 Alderwoman Joyce Arceneaux-Mathis asked for the patience of residents affected by the construction.

She said she has been waiting for this project to occur for at least 10 years, and it is a big undertaking that will amount to $12 million in construction for the area.

“I know people are having a difficult time, if they take a deep breath, what they will have will be better (than before),” Arceneaux-Mathis said.

A resident also spoke at Monday’s work session about issues near his house as a result of the construction.

4The board unanimously denied a special exception to allow the owner of Northgate Shopping Center to have a trailer on the shopping center’s property.

The shopping center’s owner, California-based Richard Sheehan, appeared at Monday’s work session asking the board to allow him to keep the trailer for the use of 24-hour security.

Ward 5 Alderman Mark Fortenbery made the motion to deny the request, which was seconded by Ward 2 Alderman James “Ricky” Gray and passed unanimously.