City near Dothan wants to nix police chief’s suspension lawsuit

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ABBEVILLE, Ala. (AP) — An Alabama city being sued by its police chief wants the lawsuit dismissed.

The Dothan Eagle reports Abbeville police Chief Noel Vanlandingham has until Sept. 3 to respond to the city’s motion for dismissal. Vanlandingham sued the city council last month, saying it violated his First Amendment rights and suspended him in retaliation.

Court documents say a citizen posted an audio recording online in which Vanlandingham is heard criticizing the Henry County Sheriff’s Office. The motion says Vanlandingham’s comments directly go against an order to get along with the sheriff, resulting in the suspension.

The council and Mayor Billy Helms decided in May to suspend Vanlandingham, who unsuccessfully appealed. The city’s dismissal motion says there’s an overriding public interest in a harmonious relationship between the police department and sheriff’s office.

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