Officer’s conviction puts HPD under scrutiny; Chief pledges inappropriate conduct will be addressed

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – The City of Huntsville’s police force has been under scrutiny this week, with Officer Brett Russell being convicted in federal court Thursday.  He was found guilty of excessive force and obstruction of justice.

Russell’s trial was not mentioned Friday during Chief Lewis Morris’ retirement announcement.

Brett Russell (Photo: Morgan County Jail)

Brett Russell (Photo: Morgan County Jail)

Several officers testified in his trial, including Joshua Bates, who changed his story to testify against Russell.

Soon after the verdict Thursday, Chief Morris released a statement saying Russell’s actions were wrong and would not be tolerated in the department. The department fired Russell after the incident in December 2011, but Russell appealed his termination and the city council reinstated him.

“With [Thursday’s] verdict, we will immediately initiate termination proceedings, and we will move to expedite that process any way we can.”

Chief Morris also issued a strong statement that any hint of inappropriate conduct by other officers will be addressed as well. He has been vocal that there was no communication from federal prosecutors throughout the process.

“At no time prior to, or during, the federal court proceedings has anyone from the United States Department of Justice been in contact with me about the Russell case or about any offer of immunity to other parties involved,” said Chief Morris. “Any federal offer of immunity will have no bearing on our internal investigation and possible personnel action.”