MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) - The Memphis Police Association and Memphis Mayor A C Wharton have been in a public feud for at least the last two years. It started when the Mayor cut salaries by more than four and a half percent, and it’s been getting worse every month since then.
Now, when the Mayor says he has concerns about how police Director Toney Armstrong is doing his job, the union is standing behind Armstrong. “I think he (Armstrong) is kind of teetering on whether he wants to keep the job or not,” says Memphis Police Association Director Mike Williams. “He has not been allowed to perform the job without the city administration having its hands on it.”
The union isn’t standing alone in its support of Armstrong. Memphis City Council member Janis Fullilove blasted Mayor Wharton as well. She says Armstrong hasn’t been given a chance to do what is needed to be done. “It just appears like this is some kind of set up to get rid of Director Armstrong,” Fullilove says. “I’ll tell you one thing, if that happens there’s going to be hell to pay thereafter.”
The whole thing exploded following the shooting death of 15-year-old Justin Thompson. Off duty Memphis officer Terrance Shaw was at the scene and he’s now being investigated by the TBI.
Shaw has been a cop for six years. He’s had three internal affairs investigations on using force. Twice he shot a dog, one time he fired his weapon when suspects were trying to hit him with a car. All three times police said the use of force was justified.
This time the TBI is looking into things. “That’s like sending in the National Guard,” Fullilove says. “It’s ridiculous.”
Meanwhile, Armstrong met with Mayor A C Wharton and says he has no plans on resigning. The Mayor’s office issued a statement indicating they stood behind Armstrong.
“I have every confidence in Director Toney Armstrong to keep our streets safe, to continue decreasing crime rates in Memphis, and to get the job done. With 23 years on the force, he is a proven and exceptional leader and has my full support,” the Mayor stated.
“Last year, I chose Director Armstrong to lead this department. I knew he was an excellent choice then and I know he is an excellent choice now.”