Terrell Bolton, former Dallas police chief, vowed vindication in the courts Monday after he was fired from his job as police chief in DeKalb County, Ga.
Bolton, who is in the Dallas area recuperating from recent complications from diabetes, said DeKalb County Chief Executive Officer Burrell Ellis fired him illegally because he is on family medical leave. He also accused the newly elected Ellis of playing dirty politics.
"I got a new boss, and he pulled a coup while I was in the hospital here in Dallas," Bolton said late Monday, just a few hours after his firing.
Since he was hired as DeKalb chief in late 2006, "I reduced crime here. We instituted community policing. I had a wonderful working relationship" before Ellis took office in January.
"He came in and wanted his own people," Bolton told The Dallas Morning News. "I'll be addressing it in the courts. I look forward to swift vindication because it was an unlawful termination."
Ellis could not be reached for comment late Monday. His spokeswoman did not return a telephone call.
Bolton said he was hospitalized Jan. 31 in Dallas and, at one point, was in a near-coma from his diabetes. He said he was released three days later.
The day he returned to work in Georgia on Feb. 9, Ellis placed him on a two-week leave pending an investigation of his conduct as chief.
Last week, Bolton said he informed Ellis he needed more time under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act.
Ellis sent Bolton and his attorney a "pre-termination notice" Friday outlining the ex-chief's troubles.
It says that on Feb. 2, Bolton, who was on sick leave, encouraged the acting chief to disregard Ellis' order to fire a police employee.
Ellis said Bolton improperly used seven county vehicles and two luxury vehicles seized in drug cases.
He also accused Bolton of speaking ill of his authority at a police graduation and misusing paid time off.
In a response letter earlier Monday, Bolton, through his attorney William McKenney, denied encouraging the acting chief to disobey Ellis' order to fire the employee.
Bolton also denied having seven county cars for his "own use" or any impropriety with regard to the two seized drug vehicles. He said his remarks at the police graduation were in response to inappropriate directives Ellis had made about police transfers. He also denied abusing compensatory time.
"If you wish to appoint yourself chief in order to run the police department, you need to attend the police academy and become certified," Bolton's attorney wrote to Ellis.
Bolton was fired as Dallas chief in August 2003 after a four-year tenure that included a scandal in which fake drugs were planted on people by informants, low morale among the rank-and-file, a multimillion-dollar lawsuit filed by commanders after he demoted them, and a crime rate that was the highest among big cities in the nation.
He was hired as DeKalb's chief by then county CEO Vernon Jones. Ellis took over that spot this year.