Chief says he ordered inquiry as part of assault investigation

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Posted: Tuesday, November 19, 2013 7:13 pm | Updated: 7:25 pm, Tue Nov 19, 2013.

Dothan’s police chief said he ordered an internal inquiry into a former police captain after his name surfaced as part of an assault investigation involving a local motorcycle club.

Chief Gregory Benton said former police captain Keith Gray’s name was one of two that surfaced as part of an investigation into an assault.

Benton testified Tuesday during an appeal hearing of Gray's termination from the department held in front of the Dothan City Personnel Board. Benton said Gray’s name came up as a known associate of the outlaw motorcycle gang called Outcast.

“It’s a concern because of the criminal element of a one percent (outlaw) motorcycle gang,” Benton said. “It looks very bad that he associates with known felons. It could very well affect our working relationship with the public.”

Benton did not order an internal inquiry into the second officer mentioned because he was told the officer was no longer a part of the motorcycle club.

As part of the city’s evidence for the termination , City Attorney Len White played a video of Dothan police officers telling one of the assault suspects he could 'take care' of the pending charge against him if he gave them the name or names of police officers possibly associated with an outlaw motorcycle gang.

White told the personnel board Gray’s termination stemmed from his direct association with a known outlaw motorcycle gang.

“We are not alleging and never have alleged he has committed a crime,” White said. “He had knowledge he was directly associated with an outlaw motorcycle gang.”

Gray said he received a blessing from the Outcast Motorcycle Club because motorcycle clubs are often territorial.

“I went to Bessemer to talk with a person who is a member of Outcast,” Gray said. “I never thought about his club being engaged in criminal activity.”

Gray is contesting his termination with the assistance of Birmingham attorney Sonya Edwards.

The hearing started with Delvick McKay, the city’s personnel director, outlining the city’s grounds for terminating Gray. Gray was fired a couple of months ago from the department after serving nearly 30 years.

McKay read the grounds for termination, which included conduct unbecoming of an officer, membership of organizations, electronic messaging, truthfulness and a code of ethics violation dubbed ‘private life.’

McKay said the charges stemmed from police responding to an assault call at the “Outcast Motorcycle Club” located at 414 N. Appletree St. in late August. Police charged eight men with felony assault from a fight at the clubhouse that night.

Benton said Gray was not at the clubhouse on the night of the assault.

McKay said the grounds for Gray’s termination also involved the inappropriate viewing of a pornographic website with the department - issued cell phone, along with using departmental computer programs for personal use.

Personnel Board member Earl Tyson asked Gray if he knew any of the eight suspects arrested from the nightclub fight. Gray said he knew four of the men because of their involvement in motorcycle clubs, particularly ones prior to their joining the Outcast club.

Testimony

During his testimony Gray said he never knew the Outcast Motorcycle Club was labeled an outlaw motorcycle gang by the FBI until his interrogation by internal affairs officers.

“My club is not Outcast,” Gray said. “My club is Bama Boys Motorcycle Club Inc.”

White showed a picture of Gray shaking hands with the president of the Outcast Motorcycle Club, an outlaw motorcycle gang in Alabama. Gray acknowledged he received that man’s blessing to start a club, Bama Boys, in Anniston.

Personnel Board Chairperson Barbara Spann asked Gray to explain the difference between an outlaw motorcycle club (OMC) and others. Gray said OMCs are often territorial and are supposed to be the “rough of the rough.”

“They’re bikers. You avoid those people and you have your own life,” Gray said. “My club does charities and has given away toys at Walton Park.”

Gray also said women are not allowed to be members of an OMC, but he has several women who are members of his motorcycle club.

Tyson asked Gray about the difference between the veteran patriotic motorcycle groups and his motorcycle club. Gray said he didn’t know about their bylaws.

Board member Tim Shirley questioned why a blessing was needed. Gray said he got the blessing because some motorcycle clubs can be territorial.

“I have not had criminal activity involved in my club,” Gray said. “I wanted to start a chapter of Bama Boys, and didn’t want any trouble out of these guys.”

Gray said he’s only had minimal contact with Outcast by asking to coexist with them in Alabama.

“We did the minimum thing we needed to do to make sure our guys in Anniston and Dothan were safe,” Gray said.

White questioned whether Gray had to get a blessing from the Patriot Guard motorcycle group.

“My club is fine because we extended a courtesy, and that’s what we do in biking,” Gray said.

Gray denied ever viewing or accessing pornography on his department-issued cell phone.

“I feel like someone set me up,” Gray said.

Joseph Thompson, an analyst for the FBI, testified during the hearing that outlaw motorcycle gangs constitute a threat in Alabama.

Thompson also said the Bama Boys Motorcycle Club was not considered an outlaw motorcycle club.

However, White claims the Bama Boys serve as a support club for Outcast.

Gray’s attorney claims the case is just a witch hunt and asked for Gray to be reinstated to his position with back pay.

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