Sheriff fires officer who turned on Mississippi State

March 7, 2012

They take football seriously in Mississippi as a correctional officer was fired for disclosing routine arrest information to the press regarding MSU wide receiver Chad Bumphis (#1).

Lee County Sheriff Jim Johnson fired correctional officer Rodricus Hurst for releasing truthful information about a player arrest that embarrassed the Mississippi State football program.  Earlier this year, a reporter contacted Lee Country Jail once word got out that 22-year-old star MSU wide receiver Chad Bumphis was in jail for his involvement in a physical altercation during a friend’s birthday party at a Tupelo bar.  Hurst told a North Mississippi Daily Journal reporter that Bumphis was arrested but released on a recognizance bond.  When asked why he was arrested, Hurst told the reporter that he did not know, but he heard there was a fight and for further information he should contact the Tupelo Police Department.

In an act of shoddy journalism, the reporter misquoted Hurst and published the following statement:

“When the fight broke out, they just started taking people to jail.”

Hurst never said those words, yet the quote was printed.  Upon learning that Hurst spoke to a reporter, Sheriff Johnson, an avid Mississippi State football fan, terminated Hurst based on the content of his speech.  Johnson was angry at Hurst for providing specific information about an MSU player and the potential of embarrassing Bumphis and MSU.   

Despite Lee County having no policy regarding the release of routine information regarding arrests including identifying arrestees, Johnson fired Hurst.  Incidentally, when Cpl. Deanna Reader spoke to a reporter about Bumphis and was quoted in the Jackson Clarion Ledger, she was not fired.  The difference, Hurst is an African-American male, Reader is a white female.

For his wrongful termination, Hurst filed a four page civil suit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Mississippi (Western Division), Cause No. 3:12-cv-027-AA, against Lee County for actual and punitive damages for race discrimination and First Amendment violations.  Additionally, Hurst filed an EEOC charge for race and sex discrimination. Cpl. Reader was suspended and demoted, but is not a party to Hurst’s civil action.

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