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Melton denies claims in officer’s...

Melton denies claims in officer’s lawsuit

By: Magnolia Tribune - March 5, 2009

The Clarion-Ledger, 3/5/9

Jackson Mayor Frank Melton denied Wednesday he had anything to do with the transfer of a police officer who cooperated with federal agents investigating him.

“I had no knowledge of him being moved. I don’t even know his name,” Melton said.

Jackson police officer Robert Watts, who has been on the force three years, filed a lawsuit Tuesday in Hinds County Circuit Court alleging he was reassigned in August 2008 as an act of retaliation orchestrated by Melton. He was moved from patrolling downtown on a scooter to working the night shift in the city’s highest crime precinct.

In the suit, Watts says he was transferred a few weeks after talking to the Federal Bureau of Investigation and shortly after a federal grand jury indicted Melton and his two former police bodyguards on civil rights abuse charges. One of the bodyguards, Marcus Wright, pleaded guilty to lesser charges in October, while a trial against the mayor and other bodyguard, Michael Recio, last month resulted in a hung jury. Melton and Recio could learn today if they will be retried.

Watts was not called as a witness in the federal trial.

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