Jefferson County, MO – The mayor of Hillsboro challenged a Jefferson County Sheriff’s deputy to fight him at a gas station on Monday, and ended up getting pepper sprayed and arrested. Now the town's board of alderman wants him out of office
Police said that Hillsboro Mayor Dennis Bradley has a grudge against a particular deputy from the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office (JCSO) for arresting the mayor’s son for driving under the influence four years ago, KMOV reported.
When Bradley, 65, encountered that deputy at a Phillips 66 gas station on Jan. 5, surveillance video showed that he wasn’t able to control himself.
The mayor told KMOV that the officer overreacted.
"I pointed my finger and tapped him on his flak jacket. I wasn't trying to do him bodily harm,” the mayor said.
But Jefferson County Sheriff Dave Marshak described Bradley’s behavior as more aggressive than that, Leaders Publications reported.
“The deputy advised the subject to leave him alone, and that he should go about his business,” Sheriff Marshak said. “[Bradley] followed the deputy to his patrol car, and while challenging the deputy to take off his badge and gun, poked the deputy in the chest. The deputy warned the subject not to touch or physically assault him, and that if he did it again, he would be arrested. The subject continued the threats, and again physically poked the deputy.”
The mayor followed the deputy from inside the gas station, back to his patrol vehicle.
"The officer clearly was attempting to walk away," said JCSO Captain Gary Higginbotham told KMOV. "[He] mentions something like 'It's in the past, you need to go home, on with your business.' Something to that effect."
The mayor was warned multiple times to stop touching the officer or he would be arrested, but he refused to comply. The officer went to take him into custody, and Bradley grabbed his hand.
"At some point Mr. Bradley got a hold of his hand or his fingers and his wrist and began twisting. So at that point he disengaged and used pepper spray," Captain Higginbotham said.
Police said that Bradley got a one-second burst of pepper spray, and then was taken into custody.
The sheriff's office sent the arrest report to the Jefferson County Prosecuting Attorney's Office, and requested that Bradley be charged with fourth-degree assault of law enforcement, resisting arrest, and stalking/harassment, KTVI reported.
“The case is going to have to be reviewed [by a prosecutor] but someone who feels comfortable enough to target a deputy and challenge him to a physical confrontation and poke him in the chest is concerning,” Sheriff Marshak told Leader Publications.
Police said Bradley was transported to JCSO and released pending application for warrants. But after he was released, they said the mayor sought out the deputy and tried to confront him again.
Leader Publications reported that Bradley left the jail and walked across the parking lot and stood next to the arresting deputy’s patrol car.
When the officer left the sheriff’s office and saw Bradley next to his police cruiser, he went back inside and advised his bosses. Bradley left as supervisors approached him.
The deputy has since obtained an order of protection from the court against the mayor, whom KMOV reported has more than one grudge against that particular deputy.
Bradley said he was also angry that the same deputy had pulled him over and given him a speeding ticket. He told KMOV that another person had been pulled over at the same spot and only received a warning from a different deputy.
There have been calls for Bradley, who took office less than a year ago, to step down from his position as mayor, but he has refused.
“I did this (ran for mayor) as a way to give back to my community and I am proud of what I have done so far,” he told Leader Publications.
"Maybe I was wrong for the way I acted toward the officer. But I'm one who protects my family," he told KMOV.
On Monday night, the Hillsboro Board of Alderpersons voted unanimously in closed session to seek an attorney’s advice on how to remove Bradley from office, Leader Publications reported.
The board members wouldn’t comment on the vote, but Bradley said he’d had numerous conflicts with them since his election.
“There isn’t one mayor there, there is five,” he said. “I come in, I stir the pot. There are a bunch of board members who are jealous of my position.”
“They said I was hurting the reputation of the city. What about my reputation?” Bradley asked.
He told Leader Publications that the aldermen “very strongly indicated” they wanted him to resign.
“But I say a person is innocent until proved guilty,” the mayor said.