Former officer alleges Gadsden police hacked into her personal email

Published: Nov. 4, 2015 at 5:56 PM CST|Updated: Dec. 2, 2015 at 6:27 PM CST
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GASDEN, AL (WAFF) - A former Gadsden City Police officer says the Gadsden Police Department hacked into her personal email while she worked there.

Regina May was a police officer with the City of Gadsden Police Department before she retired as a captain in November 2014 after a 25-year career.

According to court documents, May was appointed to head the Professional Standards Division of the Gadsden Police Department before Chief John Crane was hired on March 12, 2012. In March 2012, Chief Crane ordered Captain May to process only black applicants on the applicant eligibility roster for hire. May objected, telling Crane he could not do that. He then removed May from the Professional Standards Division and hiring process.

Court documents allege that Crane ordered the department's IT expert, Dennis Cantrell, to conduct secret surveillance on May's work computer.

In the lawsuit, it states that Cantrell hacked into May's personal and password-protected Gmail account to get access to personal emails which had not been downloaded or stored on the department's computer server.

The lawsuit also states that the secret surveillance and copying of her hard drive and personal emails was not disclosed by Crane or the city to May until the trial against the City of Gadsden by Michael Dustin Frazier in August 2015. Frazier, who is white, won a civil rights lawsuit against the city after it was found his application was passed over. He said one job opening was filled by a black applicant who ranked lower than he did on the civil service exam.

During that trial, the city produced an email sent by May's personal Gmail account dated March 25, 2012 to the personal email address belonging to former police chief Richard Crouch. The lawsuit said that email was attempted to be used to impeach May's trial testimony and that May did not send that email from any police department computer that day or perform any work with the department that day.

Later during the trial, Crane testified that he ordered Cantrell to provide him with an image of May's email logs and that Cantrell gave him a copy of everything on her work computer, as well as the computers of three other officers.

The lawsuit lists four counts against Cantrell and Crane: a violation of the federal stored communications act, invasion or privacy, intentional infliction of emotional distress/outrage, negligent and/or wanton retention, training, and/or supervision.

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