Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Lauderdale County Deputies Battle it Out!

Lauderdale County Deputy Terry Woods is in the news again, this time accused of assaulting fellow deputy Ronnie Valentine. Deputy Woods is no stranger to notoriety; in 2001 while en route to the scene of a chase already under control, he wrecked a Lauderdale County patrol car on a straight stretch of road. For some time after the crash, Woods was assigned to child support collection, but by 2004, he was again in the field.

In June of 2004, he was accused of asking a victim of domestic abuse to "contain" her attacker, who was later killed by the woman's husband after deputies did not arrive in a timely fashion. Woods indicated he did not respond when the woman called his personal number because it was his day off. By early 2008, Woods had been assigned to the "Internet Safety for Children Program."

According to at least one local attorney, Woods has been involved in other unreported incidents over the years. Now Terry Woods is in danger of losing his job and costing Lauderdale County taxpayers what could amount to thousands of dollars over his alleged attack on fellow deputy Ronnie Valentine.

On the afternoon of July 7th, witnesses say Woods, by now an 11 year veteran of the sheriff's department, and Valentine, a relatively new hire, became involved in a war of words. Some called the verbal sparring all in jest, but others present say it was more sinister. Woods temporarily left the room where he and Valentine had talked, but soon returned and asked Valentine to accompany him to another part of the Lauderdale County Courthouse.

After the two deputies left the public area, there were no witnesses, but Valentine has charged that Terry Woods took him to the old jail, an area that has not been used for over 15 years, and repeatedly pushed him against the bars of a cell. Deputy Ronnie Valentine claims his back was seriously injured and has filed for workman's compensation, as well as privately stating his intentions of a lawsuit. Lauderdale County Sheriff Ronnie Willis has announced an internal investigation, rather than turning the matter over to the Alabama Bureau of Investigation.

In order to avoid any appearance of partiality, Willis would do well to leave the investigation to another agency. Such shenanigans have been reported before under his watch and do nothing to enhance the credulity of the department or Sheriff Ronnie Willis himself.

Happy Birthday: We wish Red Bay native Mac McAnally and Shoals restauranteur Timm Glass a very happy birthday! Timm is the owner of the fantastic Pizza Marina; if you haven't eaten there yet, you're missing a marvelous treat.