The Board of Aldermen fired Police Chief Art McClung on Tuesday less than a week after a Sun Herald report on a traffic stop in which the chief was clocked driving 109 mph after drinking “at least three vodkas.”
The board voted 5-1 to terminate McClung. Alderwoman Shirley Chambers was the lone no vote. The board’s decision, on a motion by Alderman James Smith, was to terminate the chief , although they gave him the option to resign within seven days.
The vote came at the end of the meeting and was the result of an executive session that lasted only about 15 minutes. McClung had announced last week he wanted to address the board and tell his side of the story following his suspension.
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The report contained dash-camera footage from two Pascagoula police vehicles. Pascagoula police had stopped McClung after a patrol officer clocked him going 54 mph over the speed limit and passing people “on the right” side of the road. The Sun Herald independently learned of the incident and filed a public-records request to obtain Pascagoula police audio and video recordings, radio traffic and other information from the stop.
In the videos, officers are heard saying, “He’s obviously DUI,” and “He’s toast. He knows it, too. You could tell from the time we walked up.” One officer can be heard saying McClung admitted to having drunk “at least three vodkas.”
McClung was handcuffed and placed in the back of a patrol car. The responding officer then called his supervisor to tell him the driver was McClung. The supervisor alerted Pascagoula Police Chief Kenny Johnson.
Pascagoula officers drove the Moss Point police chief home without citing or charging him.
No action has been taken against Johnson or any Pascagoula officers.
McClung initially told the Sun Herald he was not impaired and that being stopped without charges, “ain’t no news. People get stopped all the time.”
He declined to comment following Tuesday’s meeting.
Alderman Chuck Redmond said his decision was the result of McClung having violated six Moss Point policies.
Mayor Billy Broomfield, who knew of the incident prior to the Sun Herald’s report, said Tuesday he still had not seen the video footage.
Broomfield said he had no particular feelings regarding the board’s decision.
“I don’t have any feeling,” he said. “The board does the hiring and firing under this form of government.
“They have to live with themselves about that one,” Broomfield replied to a query as to whether he thought the aldermen had made the correct decision. “I don’t know whether it’s right or wrong.”
Moss Point Deputy Chief Brandon Ashley has taken over interim chief until the board hires a permanent chief.