By Associated Press - Tuesday, September 22, 2020

MCCOMB, Miss. (AP) - A Mississippi city is appealing a ruling that could force it to rehire a former police chief and pay him the wages he has lost the past several months.

A civil service commission in McComb ruled Friday that the city had wrongfully fired Damian Gatlin as chief in mid-April. McComb officials decided Monday to appeal the commission’s ruling, the Enterprise-Journal reported.

“Everything is going to be on hold until the appeal is heard,” Mayor Quordiniah Lockley said.

Gatlin appealed his firing to the civil service commission. That prompted a legal battle between the city board, which argued that Gatlin served at its will and pleasure, and the commission, which said Gatlin - like other public safety employees - was entitled to a hearing to determine if he was fired unfairly.

After multiple attempts from the board to prevent the hearing, including a failed restraining order, the commission held a five-hour hearing Wednesday and announced Friday that it had concluded Gatlin was fired for political reasons.

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