When an altercation broke out at J.C. Henderson’s house, the longtime county commissioner didn’t call Covington police despite living inside the city limits.
He didn’t even call 911 to see who might respond to the Puckett Street home on April 19.
Instead, he called his friend, Sheriff Ezell Brown, who in turn called a member of his staff, who then called 911 and put himself on the case.
This is not the way business should be done, and it reeks of someone trying to use his position to obtain special favors or at least a level of service not available to the average taxpayer.
Henderson’s son Jessie C. Henderson was the victim in the alleged altercation. Neither he nor his father could give the name of the alleged assailant, even though it was allegedly a neighbor.
Jessie Henderson was in the news last year after his arrest on charges of driving under the influence, theft by receiving, fleeing or attempting to elude a police officer, obstruction of officers, driving with a suspended or revoked license, reckless driving, giving a false name to a law enforcement officer and public drunkenness. J.C. Henderson called Brown directly the night of Aug. 19, 2017, too, then to report his van was stolen.
After striking a plea deal with prosecutors, Jessie Henderson received 48 months’ probation. Given that the incident report from the Sheriff’s Office on the April 19 incident indicated alcohol was a factor in the recent incident, one wonders if J.C. Henderson didn’t contact the Sheriff’s Office as a way to influence an investigation over whether or not his son’s probation was at risk.
Even if that wasn’t the intention, the appearance sure looks bad.
Otherwise, why not let the Covington Police Department, which is the appropriate agency given the location of the alleged incident, handle the investigation? The alleged perpetrator deserves his or her right to a fair investigation too, and that involves having the case handled by an agency free of any appearance of bias.
J.C. Henderson’s phone-a-friend tactics may be convenient for him, but they’re not right. They have become a special perk for him in his office that don’t exist for the rest of us. Newton County citizens should demand better.
To be clear, there is no evidence Brown did anything improper. When he received the call from J.C. Henderson, he referred it to the appropriate level in the Sheriff’s Office and apparently did not intervene. But a better reaction would have been to kick the case to the Covington Police Department — especially given the fact CPD had no cases on hold at the moment while the Sheriff’s Office had one on hold.
This case should be referred to Covington police without further influence from J.C. Henderson.
Our Thoughts is the view of The Covington News’ editorial board, which includes Editor and Publisher David Clemons and Managing Editor Jackie Gutknecht.