Lanett council hears from man complaining about police-related incident

Published 9:00 am Saturday, August 26, 2023

LANETT — A Lanett man asked to be on the agenda for Monday’s meeting of the Lanett City Council. Michael Woody asked to speak to them about an ongoing police-related matter. He told them he wanted an unedited tape of a police-related incident he was involved in. He told council members he was pro-police when it came to good officers but not for the bad ones.

Woody claimed that an officer had not been truthful on an affidavit related to the incident. “Everything he put on it was a lie,” he said. “I have been asking for a copy of the CD. The Alabama attorney general and the state bar association are with me on this. It’s my right for my lawyer to have that CD. I’m asking the council to supply me with it. Where is it? No one will tell me.”

Woody expressed concerns that the original tape may have been tampered with.

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City Attorney Stanley Gray said this sounded like an ongoing criminal matter and that the city council wasn’t the right place to come for this. “I assume it has been given to the district attorney’s office,” he said. “The DA’s office is the place for this to be dealt with first.”

“I don’t think we need to get in the middle of this right now,” said Mayor Pro Tem Angelia Thomas.

“If our officers didn’t do anything wrong, why not give him a copy?” Council Member Ronnie Tucker said.

City Inspector Johnny Wood, the former police chief, said that he’s aware of the facts in the case but that it should not be discussed in an open session. Since it relates to personnel, it’s better for it to be done in an executive session.

Thomas agreed. “I don’t think we need to have this out there in public,” she said.

Council Member Tony Malone said the Lanett Police Department did have a history of police officers getting out of control. Wood took exception to that statement, saying that if he was going to make a comment like the in a public meeting he needed to have some facts to back it up.

The Valley Times-News spoke to Police Chief Denise McCain and Sgt. Detective Richard Casner about this and was given a copy of the original police report.

According to the report, Michael “Cal” Woody, 64, of Lanett was charged with obstructing a governmental operation on August 28, 2022. At approximately 9:50 p.m. EDT that evening, the LPD was notified by Chambers County EMA that a 911 hangup call had been made from 19th Street SW. As a routine procedure, an officer went to that location to see if there any kind of emergency. The reporting officer noticed a white truck in the parking lot next to Club 110. It had its flashing emergency lights on, and the officer went to it to see if anyone was in any kind of distress.

The officer asked a man in the truck if he had called 911. He told him that he hadn’t, that he had come there to talk to Cal if he could cut some trees for him. The man told the officer that Cal was inside a nearby building in case he wanted to talk to him.

According to the report, the officer approached the darkened building and looked at it using his flashlight. He didn’t see anyone at first but as he continued walking along the building and looking with his flashlight he could see multiple people inside. One of them stood up and walked to the door.

“You don’t need to be shining your flashlight into my building,” the man told him. The officer then explained he needed to do that to be safe. The man told him again not to be shining a flashlight into the building. At that point, the officer told him that if he raised his voice to him again he would be going to jail.

“You are not going to do a (blankety-blank) thing” the man allegedly told him.

The officer then reached for the subject, and the man jerked away, the report reads, “forcibly using his hands to remove the officer’s hands.”

The officer then stepped back, pulled out his taser and told the man to put up his hands and then put them behind him.

These actions drew the attention of nearby neighbors who approached the scene and told the officer the man was named Michael Woody but everyone called him Cal.

Woody was arrested on a charge of obstructing governmental operations for attempting to prevent an officer from conducting a lawful investigation.

If a 911 call comes in from a known address, it’s the local police department’s duty to see if there is some kind of emergency at that address.

The officer told the people that had gathered that a 911 hang-up call had come in from that address and that was the reason he was there. Several people there said they knew nothing about a 911 call being made.

At Monday’s council meeting, Woody said he wanted a copy of the CD of the incident. He probably meant a DVD of the incident. Incidents such as this one are recorded on body cameras and stored in DVD form.

Chief McCain told The VT-N that Woody’s attorney had been given a DVD of the incident. After viewing it he recommended to Woody that he enter a guilty plea.

Under Alabama law, obstructing a governmental operation is a misdemeanor, punishable by up to six months in jail.

Woody rejected such advice, dismissed his attorney and reported him to the Alabama Bar Association and the Alabama Ethics Commission.

At the Monday meeting, Woody spoke of being found not guilty in a court case. That goes back several years to an incident that reportedly took place in Valley.

Chief McCain said the LPD would treat this as an ongoing case until they were informed it had been settled.