Dispute in DA’s office leads to warrant

Published 3:52 pm Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Hayneville police chief John Mitchell was arrested in Butler County on Tuesday on charges he threatened Lowndes County Sheriff Charles “Chip” Williams.

Mitchell turned himself in to Butler County sheriff’s deputies and was released on $1500 bond shortly after.

Williams swore out a warrant in Butler County for Mitchell’s arrest on Monday for menacing and harassment, said Sheriff Kenny Harden.

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The warrant stemmed from an argument that took place between Williams and Mitchell in District Attorney John Andrews’ office at the Butler County Courthouse last Thursday.

According to Williams he and Mitchell were there to discuss the 2nd Judicial Drug Task Force with Andrews. Williams said he raised a question about the task force and Mitchell’s voice began to get louder.

“I told Chief Mitchell not to holler at me and that’s when he stood up and appeared to reach for his weapon,” said Williams. “I jumped up and went into defense mode and two officers came between us.”

Williams said Mitchell settled down and the meeting continued, but then decided to file the warrant to document the incident and Mitchell’s alleged actions.

Leaving the Butler County Correctional Facility on Tuesday after his release, Mitchell deferred all questions to his attorney, Michael Strickland.

Strickland released a statement through his office that differs from Williams’ version of the incident. In the release, Strickland said it was Williams who threatened Mitchell.

“During a discussion of command and control procedures applicable to drug task force agents, which was led by District Attorney Andrews, Sheriff Williams became agitated and angry, and subsequently threatened the life of Chief John Mitchell,” said the release. “Chief Mitchell stated that Williams threatened “you will die” at one point during the argument with Mitchell over the command and control procedures (of the DTF).”

According to Strickland, Mitchell swore out a warrant for Williams’ arrest for harassment but no arrest had been made at press time.

Andrews is out of town and was unavailable for comment, according to the District Attorney’s office.