Ex-deputy fired for speaking about Bumphis

TUPELO – (AP) A former Lee County Sheriff's sergeant claims he was fired after speaking to a reporter because he is black, while a white worker was suspended and demoted for speaking to another newspaper.

The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal reports that Rodricus Carltez Hurst of Tupelo sued Lee County and Sheriff Jim Johnson on Friday in federal court.

Hurst told the newspaper in January that Mississippi State junior wide receiver Chad Bumphis had been booked with disorderly conduct and public drunkenness.

The county's attorney, Gary Carnathan, declined comment, saying he had not seen the lawsuit.

Hurst claims the sheriff violated his rights to free speech and equal protection.

Johnson says he hasn't seen the lawsuit but stands by his decision.

Bumphis, 22, was arrested Jan. 1 on charges of disorderly conduct and public drunkenness, according to the Lee County Sheriff's Department.

The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal reported that Bumphis was arrested at 1:31 a.m. by Tupelo police and booked at 2:25. He was released on his own recognizance and had a hearing in Tupelo Municipal Court on Jan. 12.

Bumphis pleaded not guilty.

At the time, Sgt. Hurst said Bumphis, a former Tupelo High School standout, was involved in a “big group fight” at the Atlanta Bar & Grill in downtown Tupelo and that several other people were arrested.

Hurst said Bumphis got hit in the neck by a glass bottle and suffered a cut, but that he did not injure anyone.

Through his attorney, Jim Waide of Tupelo, Hurst asks for actual damages, lost income, reinstatement, attorney’s fees, costs and other expenses.