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Marathon hearing in terminal appeal of high ranking police officer

Former captain Keith Gray hoping personnel board will order him returned to duty.

The Dothan Personnel Board heard a full day of testimony on Tuesday in the appeal hearing of former police captain Keith Gray. Gray was terminated in September for what is described as intolerable violations of department policy. Dothan City Attorney Len White told the board that Gray's termination stemmed, in part, from his association with what's termed as an outlaw motorcycle gang. Other allegations involve viewing pornography on a city issued cell phone.

"The FBI. the ATF, the ABI, and the National Gang Threat Assessment Agency...when these people put out bulletins or alerts about criminal activity and criminal motorcycle gangs that doesn't concern you as a captain in the Dothan Police Department” White asked Gray during the hearing.

Gray admitted in his testimony that  he did seek the “blessing” or approval of a member of an motorycle gang to establish a motorcycle club. Gray said he only asked for approval because some motorcycle clubs or gangs can be territorial. Gray contends his club is not affiliated with criminal activity. “You can paint it up in any manner you want to, trying to make me out to be a criminal, but my club doesn't do that no matter how you say it,” said Gray.
 
Gray contends the real reason behind the internal affairs probe that led to his firing was no more than a “witch hunt.” Gray said his issues began when he complained about treatment from the department's second highest ranking member. “Had I not told this man (indicating Police Chief Chief Benton) that I was being harassed by Major Steve Parrish on May 14th I would still be working (at the department)."

Gray's attorney, Sonya Edwards, said evidence will vindicate Gray.  She wants him reinstated with back pay.

Gray had been with the Dothan Police Department for 28 years before being terminated a few months ago. 

It will likely be several weeks before the Personnel Board decides whether to uphold the firing. If it finds Benton acted within city guidelines when he terminated Gray the case could be appealed to Houston County Circuit Court.

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