For his part, the councilman, Ben Little, says the Police Department used a city worker to lure him into a situation that led to his being charged with a crime that could lead to his removal from office.
Anniston police Lt. Allen George gave to The Star a disc containing nearly an hour's worth of images taken from two separate surveillance cameras positioned at the Anniston Street Department’s storage headquarters downtown on the night of June 15.
The videos show what appears to be a person being dropped off by a pickup truck near the facility downtown. The person appears to move a trailer or trailers from the area before later leaving with the equipment in a pickup truck. Neither the person nor the getaway vehicle can be identified in the footage.
The videos in question figured in Little's arrest last week on a charge of violating the Council-Manager Act, a state law that establishes Anniston’s form of government.
The law, in section 11-43A-18 of the state code, says that “neither the mayor nor any member of the council shall give orders to any subordinates of the city manager, either publicly or privately.”
George said Little was “circumventing official channels” by requesting a video from a Street Department worker that allegedly showed equipment being stolen from the department’s headquarters.
“Apparently there are some people that are supplying him with information,” George said. “Some of that so-called information is that you can easily identify someone in the video stealing a trailer and we’ve seen the video; that’s obviously not the case.”
George said the Police Department was releasing the video because the situation had “gotten out of hand” after Little’s arrest and said an individual had been arrested on charges for intimidating a witness in the case.
“We’re trying to sit back and do our jobs and stay above the political fray,” George said. “He’s making that difficult.”
Little denied the charges, and on Wednesday said the Police Department attempted to frame him by sending a city employee repeatedly to ask him to look into the incident and request the video.
“He told me you can identify a person in the video,” said Little, who added he has yet to see the footage. “I said if you can get a copy, put it on my desk.”
Little said there’s a difference between a request and an order, and he never conducted his own investigation into the matter. He added that he already asked City Manager Don Hoyt for the video as well, proving he had not “leap frogged” the system in trying to obtain the video.
“They’re using city employees, time and money to set up an individual,” Little said. “And it still didn’t work.”
George declined Wednesday to comment on Little’s claims and said all the evidence in the case will be presented during the trial.
Little is scheduled to appear in court on Sept. 4. If convicted, he would be forced to resign from the council.
Staff writer Brian Anderson: 256-235-3546. On Twitter @BAnderson_Star.