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Superintendent Claims Arrest Was Personal

(CN) - An Alabama school superintendent was wrongfully arrested by a local police chief waging a "vendetta" against him, he claims in federal court.

Daniel Boyd, the superintendent of Lowndes County, Ala., Schools, filed suit last week against the Town of Hayneville, its police department and Hayneville Police Chief Kelvin Mitchell, alleging false arrest, false imprisonment, abuse of the legal process and malicious prosecution and libel.

The complaint, which was filed Feb. 2 in Middle Alabama Federal Court, also named Hayneville City Council members as defendants.

According to the complaint, Boyd was arrested on April 17, 2014, on a warrant charging 108 counts of reckless endangerment. The charges stemmed from the alleged actions of a school custodian, who was accused of inappropriate interactions with a female student.

"Chief Mitchell apparently based his warrant upon the fact that the custodian at Hayneville Middle School was alleged to have inappropriately touched and said something of a sexual nature to a female student on Sept. 30, 2013," the 23-page complaint states.

Boyd says he promptly suspended the custodian after the accusations were made, and he reported the incident to the human resources department. He did not, however, report the incident directly to the chief of police, which apparently caused the chief "great displeasure," the lawsuit states.

Prior to issuing the warrants for Boyd's arrest, Mitchell told Boyd "that as the chief of police, he should have been notified directly by plaintiff Boyd and threatened to arrest plaintiff Boyd for reckless endangerment for children," according to the complaint.

The complaint also alleges Mitchell expressed displeasure with Boyd's decision not to use members of the police department for school security, saying that "he and his men lost money" because of the decision.

The custodian in question was never returned to Hayneville Middle School but was moved to Central Elementary School in the Town of Mosses following a school investigation, according to Boyd. The custodian was later asked to resign after his arrest on Oct. 24, 2013.

The initial warrant for Boyd's arrest charged him with endangering the 243 female students at both Hayneville Middle School and Central Elementary School. That warrant was shelved, however, after Boyd's attorney wrote a letter to the Town of Hayneville pointing out Mitchell's lack of jurisdiction in Mosses, according to the lawsuit.

"Additionally, the letter informed members of the town council that the warrant was a 'vendetta' by the police chief against plaintiff Boyd," the lawsuit states.

A subsequent warrant "charged plaintiff Boyd with endangering female children in Hayneville when defendant Mitchell knew that the school custodian was never returned to Hayneville Middle School as an employee after his suspension and investigation," the complaint states.

Boyd says Mitchell and the police department lacked probable cause or reasonable suspicion to arrest him, in violation of his Fourth Amendment rights. Their motives were instead "based upon retaliation and political motives," Boyd's lawsuit alleges.

The complaint also accuses Mitchell of attempting to have Boyd removed from his position with the school system and interacting with the media "to destroy the reputation of plaintiff Boyd."

Boyd says he was ultimately found not guilty of the charges following a trial. He seeks punitive damages, and is represented by Henry Sanders of Chestnut, Sanders & Sanders in Selma.

Mitchell could not be reached for comment Friday.

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