Court: Burns officer fired for reporting illegal activity

BURNS, Tenn. (AP) – The Tennessee Supreme Court has ruled that a former Burns police officer was fired as retaliation for complaining about his chief’s illegal activity.

According to court records, Larry Williams ticketed the stepson of then-Chief Jerry Sumerour for speeding and reckless driving in March 2008. The chief later ordered Williams to change the citations to warnings.

Williams complained to the mayor and was fired several days later.

Chief Sumerour said Williams was fired for going outside the chain of command with his complaint. A trial court judge initially agreed and ruled in favor of the city. But an appeals court overturned that ruling and on Monday the state Supreme Court concurred.

The court found that Williams’ firing was retaliatory and the chief’s insubordination charge was a mere pretext.