Fired Macon cop seeks his job, back pay

mstucka@macon.comJanuary 5, 2014 

John Horton

Former Macon police Sgt. John Horton is suing the city of Macon to get his job back. He was fired after being arrested on an indecent exposure charge, which was dropped several months ago.

One of Horton’s attorneys, Lars Anderson of Macon, said Horton’s 15-year career as a police officer was shut down when the city fired him.

“John’s been out of work since May of 2012, and of course (has) his future losses, which I think is something that has to be considered,” Anderson said.

The lawsuit was filed Dec. 31 in U.S. District Court in Macon.

Horton is asking for his former job, back pay and compensation for pay he would have earned.

Horton was arrested by colleagues May 18, 2012, on the charge of public indecency. City officials said Horton, who had been assigned to the police department’s pawn unit, allegedly exposed himself to a worker at Hair & Nail Salon, 4646 Forsyth Road, while his wife was having her hair done and while his children were in the business.

Prosecutors dropped the charge in October 2013 and cited his completion of a psychological exam.

“The results of said evaluation indicate that the defendant is unlikely to reoffend,” a dismissing document read.

An administrative law judge ruled in November 2012 that another hair stylist didn’t see Horton expose himself but heard the other woman say “you are a sick man,” after which she seemed upset. But the woman who supposedly was flashed continued to talk and giggle with Horton, then smoked a cigarette and chit-chatted with Horton and his family, then hugged the entire family goodbye, according to paperwork in the case.

That judge also reported there seemed to be a policy of dismissing officers after most arrests, but the policy had never been written down. The judge also found it conflicted with other city employee guidelines.

Horton’s lawsuits cites those guidelines, which said Horton could have been suspended but not fired for serious crimes not directly related to his job. The guidelines also said “that if the criminal charges are resolved in favor of the employee, the employee shall be reinstated with back pay,” according to the lawsuit.

The administrative law judge said termination was not appropriate, but Horton should have been suspended without pay and given back pay if the criminal charges were not proven.

Then-Macon Mayor Robert Reichert instead reconsidered the law judge’s decision and fired Horton in December 2012.

The lawsuit’s demand for reinstatement could be complicated. As Macon’s mayor, Reichert wielded much power over the Macon Police Department. As mayor of the new Macon-Bibb County, Reichert has limited power over the leader of the new law enforcement agency, Bibb County Sheriff David Davis.

Horton previously filed, then withdrew, two appeals in Bibb County Superior Court.

Macon-Bibb County Attorney Judd Drake said Macon officials followed the personnel policy in terminating Horton. The new government hasn’t yet been served with the lawsuit but will act to protect the city, Drake said in an emailed comment.

Reichert could not be reached for comment.

Information from Telegraph archives was used in this story. To contact writer Mike Stucka, call 744-4251.

The Telegraph is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service