Attorney: Haywood seeks to ‘right the wrong’

By Kevin Spradlin

HAMLET — Former Hamlet Police Chief John Haywood and his family looked on as attorney J. Michael McGuinness requested Mayor Bill Bayless and members of the City Council to start the process that will “right the wrong.”

McGuiness, whose office is in Elizabethtown, said he wanted to begin the process of inviting City Council members and city attorney T.C. Morphis Jr. to bring to a resolution an issue he said has caused no small amount of strife for nearly two years.

McGuinness spoke during the public comment period of Tuesday’s regularly scheduled City Council meeting. Haywood and family members sat in the audience but did not speak.

John Haywood

John Haywood

Haywood spent 20 years with the Hamlet Police Department, including the last six as chief, before being terminated in 2012 by City Manager Marchell Adams-David after being charged with gross negligence in the carrying out of his administrative duties; specifically, that he failed to supervise departmental operations which resulted in the improper spending of city funds.

“I look forward to a process where we can hopefully explore what has happened here in Hamlet,” McGuinness said. “(Haywood) gave this community 20 years of his life. That’s very, very important.”

McGuinness said he planned to be in Hamlet for a while in order to try “to learn all of the facts and circumstances that would be relevant for me to know, for Mr. Morphis to know … about what tragically happened to John Haywood.”

J. Michael McGuinness

J. Michael McGuinness

McGuinness requested of council members permission to “come back some time … to see if we can approach this problem. It’s a serious one. I’m inclined to believe it would be better for everybody … to see if we can’t resolve a problem so that it’s not lingering on some 20 years,” a reference to an unrelated, longstanding issue a council member had addresses in a previous meeting.

McGuinness told the council he would try to complete his task “as efficiently and as fairly as I can,” but also transparent to the limits of state law. He said he’s not able to have conversations with individual council members but he’s hopeful still to address the issue in a “fair, rational way, to see if we can seek some resolution for what has been a problem.”

Haywood was sworn in last October as an officer with the Rockingham Police Department. Howver, Adams-David marked on Haywood’s termination papers that he was “eligible for rehire” and, as it happens, the position of police chief is up for grabs after former Chief Amery Griffin retired last month.

As Bayless and council members met in closed session to discuss this and unrelated personnel matters, Haywood was asked if he had applied for the position of chief of the Hamlet Police Department. Haywood referred all questions to his attorney. McGuinness didn’t confirm or deny if Haywood had applied but said he and his client hoped that Haywood would be considered for the position.

McGuinness said he is currently not certain what will be the final outcome or even what his client will ultimately seek, in terms of what he deems fair and just, if the situation is resolved favorably for him.

Haywood was asked if the pursuit of possible legal action with the city would hamper his commitment to the Rockingham Police Department. Again, Haywood deferred to McGuinness, who said Haywood would be “completely loyal” to his current employer.

After the 34-minute closed session, Bayless said council directed Morphis to attempt to obtain a final determination from the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation on any and all matters related to Haywood. Bayless said the city would be represented by Morphis in any talks with McGuinness.

Adams-David was not present at Tuesday’s meeting. She has been on leave since early April and has been temporarily replaced by City Clerk Tammy Kirkley. During the executive session Tuesday night, council members voted to give Kirkley and acting Police Chief Rodney Tucker a 15 percent raise, based on their respective base salaries, retroactive to when they assumed the higher responsibilities. For Kirkley, that’s approximately eight weeks’ of back pay of her base salary of approximately $40,500. Tucker replaced Griffin on May 30. It was unknown as published this article what Tucker’s base salary was.

Kirkley said the next update on Adams-David’s employment status would be on or about July 1.





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  • Hamlet_Fan

    Rehiring Haywood would be the right thing to do…Adams-David is probably not returning…if she were, then why would Kirkley get a 15% pay increase that is retroactive…Would Kirkley loose that increase if Adams-David returns?? The new members of the city council need to right the wrongs of the past council members and lead our fair city in the right direction….The new members got my votes…so make us Hamlet residents proud…

  • guccirn

    Where is my reply to this post, Pee Dee Post?

    • peedeepost

      We have not seen any comment from anyone except Hamlet_Fan until your question today, guccirn. Please resubmit. If on the rare occasion we do not approve a comment, you’re more than welcome to email and ask why your comment was not approved (or check on the status of your comment).

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  • Daffy

    any updates on this post ?

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