Union leaders criticize firing of police union president

By Kontji Anthony - bio | email

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - Memphis union leaders gathered outside Police Director Larry Godwin's office Monday, demanding he reinstate the recently fired Memphis Police Association president.

The presidents of AFSCME and seven other Memphis unions stood with Memphis City Council members Janis Fullilove and Myron Lowery outside Godwin's office to demand he reinstate former officer J. D. Sewell.

"Director Godwin has tried to silence his workers voices in the past, and he continues to do it today," Sewell said.

The police union president was fired last Wednesday in connection with an investigation of union member Sergeant Bettie Carter.

Carter was charged with animal cruelty when two of her dogs had to be put down for severe starvation.  When she missed her court date, Sewell called the judge to try to get Carter's arrest warrant dismissed.

"The judge has stated that nothing was done inappropriately," Lowery said Monday. "Termination should not have been the first resort."

"I'm asking that Director Godwin certainly rescind that decision," Fullilove added.

Godwin claims he had no say in the firing, and his chief deputy made the call.

"I fully support my chief and all my chiefs in whatever action they take," he said.

Godwin added that only arbitration or an appeal can reinstate Sewell, who has a long disciplinary record.

"He was terminated, at the end of the day, for not just one incident," Godwin said.

A member of the police union board tells Action News 5 that Sewell was 'out of line' when he threatened a lawsuit, and he needs to follow the appeals process like everyone else.

Sewell's disciplinary file shows he was fired twice before.

Also Monday, union leaders signed a harsh letter criticizing Godwin.  You can read that letter by clicking here.

Sergeant Carter was fired for the animal cruelty charge.

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