Councilman turned away from officer's funeral
by Laura Camper
lcamper@annistonstar.com
Aug 31, 2011 | 26623 views |  0 comments | 121 121 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Thousands of people attended the funeral of fallen Anniston Police Officer Justin Sollohub, including local officials.

But one official, who has been outspoken questioning police procedures and investigations, was refused entry to the funeral.

Councilman Ben Little, at a City Council meeting the day before the policeman was killed in the line of duty, questioned the conduct of an unnamed officer who Little thought worked for a Calhoun County Sheriff’s task force.

It was the latest in a series of issues Little has brought up about police, including charges in a seven-month-long City Council inquiry into “illicit and unethical” behavior in the city. During the inquiry, Little questioned police use of social media after he discovered an officer had posted a negative comment about him on Facebook.

The inquiry ended with no charges filed and no further action, but the air of conflict between the City Council and the department was palpable.

Councilman John Spain, a former policeman, was ousted by unanimous vote from the local Fraternal Order of Police in September 2010 because of his role in the inquiry.

When Little arrived at the funeral Monday, he was asked to leave by an Anniston police officer.

“I felt that it was my responsibility, my duty to be there, show respect,” Little said. “Out of respect, I wasn’t going to start anything and out of respect I left.”

But Little doesn’t apologize for his actions and said the timing of his remarks was unfortunate and not directed at the slain officer.

The other councilmen did attend the funeral. Mayor Gene Robinson attended the visitation and a vigil at Zinn Park on Monday evening, but said he was unable to attend the funeral due to other commitments.

Police Chief Layton McGrady said he was aware that the councilman had been asked to leave.

Contact staff writer Laura Camper at 256-235-3545.

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Councilman turned away from officer's funeral by Laura Camper
lcamper@annistonstar.com

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