West Memphis mayor vetoes controversial resolution - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Reported by Nick Paranjape

West Memphis mayor vetoes controversial resolution

West Memphis Mayor Bill Johnson West Memphis Mayor Bill Johnson

West Memphis Mayor Bill Johnson said Wednesday he vetoed the West Memphis City Council's resolution calling on West Memphis Police Chief Bob Paudert and officers Erik Sammis and Jimmy Evans to resign.

In an exclusive interview, Johnson said he staunchly supported Chief Bob Paudert and the entire West Memphis Police Department.

"It's not a decision I made lightly," he said.
   
Johnson took all five days available to him to make the decision.  Several West Memphis City Council members wanted Paudert to step down because of recent comments he made to the media they claimed were racist.
          
"He spoke what he felt and what he believes," Johnson said.  "This constitution that gives him the right is the same constitution that guarantees City Council members their protection when they speak out, and some of their words are offensive toward Chief Paudert."

Paudert reiterated his confidence in Johnson's decision.

"I had no concerns about what Mayor Johnson was going to do," he said. "I've got total confidence in his ability to make the right decisions."

As for the two officers-Erik Sammis, who shot and killed DeAunta Farrow, and his partner Jimmy Evans- Johnson maintained both men were cleared in a federal, state and internal affairs investigation.

"There were no grounds to ask for their resignation," he said. "There's absolutely no reason. No justification."

City Council member Lorraine Robinson was displeased by Johnson's decision, but not surprised.

"I'm not happy with the decision by the mayor to veto the resolution, but it's what I expected," she said.

Robinson and the other five City Council members who voted for the Paudert and two officers to step down will have another chance.  They have the right to override the mayor's decision at next week's City Council meeting.

"We can override the veto with at least seven votes," she said. "We don't have seven votes to override it, so it's going to stand as it is."

If the City Council members did have enough votes to override the veto, Johnson would be required only to ask the Paudert, Sammis, and Evans to resign.  The three men would not be required to leave.

Also Wednesday, Action News 5 learned Erik Sammis has another job opportunity, and is expected to resign on his own in a matter of weeks.

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