Judge: APD cop guilty in case

Published 12:18 am Saturday, October 19, 2013

The Andalusia Police Department officer accused of harassing two Drug Task Force employees has been found guilty.

The ruling came Friday and found APD Officer Roderick “R.C.” Covington guilty of two counts of misdemeanor harassment. Covington was accused of refusing to leave the DTF office on Progress Driver after he was told to leave multiple times, and of verbally harassing  DTF Assistant Commander David Harrell and the department secretary Amanda Hart.

The incident occurred when Covington went to the DTF office with APD Lt. Paul Dean following an undercover drug buy operation conducted by other APD officers. The APD borrowed equipment from the DTF and Harrell was to help officers obtain video and audio evidence from the transaction.

Because local court officials claimed conflicts, it took full-court press of counsel from all parts of the state to prosecute and defend the case. District Judge Stephen Smith of Geneva County  heard the case.

In his ruling, Smith said the evidence showed that the troubling relationship between the DTF and the APD was to an extent that it should have been known that Covington was not welcome at the task force office.

The incident occurred not long after the APD withdrew from the Drug Task Force. Harrell testified that prior to his exchange with Covington, he was “thrown out of the APD” by Chief Wilbur Williams, Covington and other officers.

“After considering the totality of the circumstances, the court finds that (Covington’s) refusal to leave the office when asked and directed, the use of ‘fighting’ language and telling (Harrell) to ‘put me the (expletive) out,’ the fact that (Hart) had to call for law enforcement assistance and the non-verbal threatening behavior directed to (Harrell) as (Covington) finally left the building to be persuasive in the case,” Smith’s order read.

Smith ruled Covington’s words equaled “fighting words,” considering he was wearing a badge and was armed at the time.

In each case, he sentenced Covington to 30 days in jail (suspended), ordered him to pay a $100 fine, court costs, $50 to the Crime Victims’ Compensation Fund and a $100 bond fee.

Covington, who has been on desk duty since the incident occurred, has 14 days to appeal the verdict, the order stated.