Battle: “the process works” after HPD says officer acted outside of policy during stomping incident


HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – The Huntsville Police Department hasn’t specifically pointed to the officer who acted outside of policy in the video of an arrest made on May 30th at the Mapco on University Drive. But the officer seen stomping Kemontae Hobbs, who has schizophrenia, is believed to be the officer facing disciplinary review.

Friday, Mayor Tommy Battle backed HPD’s internal finding.

“This just shows our system works. When we are trying to improve our police department, we have 188,000 calls a year for service. Out of the 188,000 there’s some you have questions with,” said Battle.

HPD says within the last year, 108 calls have resulted in officers needing some kind of disciplinary action as a result of their conduct. Mayor Battle says he still has full confidence in Chief McMurray’s department.

“The important fact is that over half of those numbers come from officers themselves. So officers initiated the complaints to internal affairs. Officers looked at the other officers to make sure we are on the right track and doing the right thing.”

Hobbs has retained civil rights attorney Martin Weinberg. Hobbs is said to be recovering with his mother, according to Weinberg.

“We are dealing with a man that has schizophrenia. We are trying to get him the treatment he needs,” said Weinberg.

Weinberg has sent legal notice to the City of Huntsville. He added HPD’s statement finding an officer to be out of compliance, is a step in the right direction.

“We saw their statement. We are, you know, cautiously optimistic. We will hold their feet to the fire if they are serious about change and reform,” said Weinberg.

Over the course of the last year, the words “change”, “policy” and “reform” have been echoed by activists on a regular basis. Thursday, protesters gathered at Big Spring Park and the courthouse a year after violence erupted at the same locations.

Some protesters feel Mayor Battle and Chief McMurray are not listening to all of their citizens. Battle said changes are in the works.

“We have crisis intervention team officers who have been specially trained to make sure our citizens have all the resources they need out there,” said Battle. “We put our standard operating procedures on the website.”

Madison County also removed the confederate statue at the Madison County Courthouse. Huntsville agreed to take it and place the statue at Maple Hill Cemetery.

News 19 asked Battle if there’s any concern about HPD actions popping up online when people do their research before packing up and heading to the Rocket City to fill our workforce shortages.

“Anytime you have 188,000 interactions with police with the public. You are going to have something. And as you do that. Our biggest goal is to have zero as a number of complaints,” said Battle who didn’t have a preference as to what should happen to the officer who stomped on Hobbs.

Battle said it’s up to Chief McMurray to work with the officer seen in the video.

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