Federal judge dismisses Auburn officer's lawsuit against police - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

Federal judge dismisses Auburn officer's lawsuit against police dept.


A Federal judge struck down a lawsuit against the Auburn Police Department on Monday.

In the lawsuit, an officer alleged he was fired because he opposed a quota system for writing tickets. 

He said his right to freedom of speech was violated when he was fired for speaking in defiance of a police department policy.   Former officer, Justin Hanners accused former Auburn chief, Tommy Dawson, of terminating his employment in 2012 because Hanners didn't want to write unnecessary tickets to fill a quota. 

"When I first heard about that quotas, I was appalled. I got into law enforcement to serve and protect, not to be a bully."

The police department has maintained all along that they fired Hanners for other reasons and that the quota system he is referring to is a made up story.   Now a United States district judge in Montgomery is siding with Auburn police, finding that Hanners failed to provide the court evidence of a material fact.

This latest ruling and development strengthens Chief Dawson's contention that Hanners was fired for reasons that strictly dealt with his behavior on the job.  

Dawson said Hanners was disciplined for making insensitive and obscene remarks over the police radio.   The exact nature and wording of those remarks was never disclosed.  

Dawson also said Hanners was spending time on Facebook while he was on the clock. The Auburn Police Department obtained Hanners' Facebook chat history on computers he used while at work, and they described his messages as containing violent and obscene material directed toward immigrants.   According to Auburn Police, Hanners admitted that his messages were inappropriate and he served four days of suspension, in addition to receiving cultural sensitivity training.

The judge dismissed the case with prejudice, meaning Hanners cannot ever refile it in that court.  

Hanners was ordered to all of the court costs and fees related to the filing and dismissal of this lawsuit. WTVM tried to get Hanners' reaction to the court's ruling, but we were unable to reach him Monday night.

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