Suspended Huntsville officers return to work

Brett Russell (Source: Facebook)
Brett Russell (Source: Facebook)
Phillip J. Lee (Source: Facebook)
Phillip J. Lee (Source: Facebook)

HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) - Two Huntsville police officers will return to the department Friday. Officers Phillip Lee and Brett Russell were suspended for using what city officials called excessive force. Both were fired in May for incidents that happened in 2011.

Council members said Lee used excessive force during two separate incidents last year. They said he hit a handcuffed suspect with a closed fist during an arrest and yanked a woman out of a car and threw her to the ground during a traffic stop.

Authorities said Russell repeatedly punched and kicked a suspect while he was down, after removing him from a patrol car.

Chief Lewis Morris said both officers will have to get re-certified and take training courses like anger management.

"A condition of their return to the workforce is that they attend some remedial training, which we have a schedule and a curriculum for that," said Morris.

Former Madison County deputy Dr. Tim Jones works with a number of police academies across North Alabama. He teaches criminal justice and ethics part time at Athens State University. He said officers are taught what they should do and what to avoid.

"Police officers are trained to meet that standard. For example, they're not to use unnecessary force or violence, use only that minimal amount of force necessary to the law, those kinds of things," Jones said.

After 35 years on the job, he said it's difficult and not for everyone. He said you have to think before reacting.

"What you have to always keep in mind is that everyone you're dealing with has certain constitutional rights, which are limitations on the officers' behavior. And what the officer has to remember is that he can't always go around violating people's constitutional rights," said Jones.

Chief Morris will meet with both officers Friday morning.

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