published Saturday, March 17th, 2012

Fired LaFayette firefighter appeals decision

A LaFayette, Ga., firefighter who was fired last week for refusing to obey an order while on duty is appealing the decision to the City Council, authorities said.

LaFayette Public Safety Director Tommy Freeman said he wrote up Johnny Stephens Jr. for insubordination two weeks ago. He said the firefighter refused to install a radio in a pickup truck after being told twice by his supervisors.

"He was given a lawful, legal order to carry out an assignment, and he refused to do it," Freeman said.

Stephens couldn't be reached for comment Friday.

Freeman recommended to LaFayette City Manager Frank Etheridge that Stephens -- a four-year employee -- be fired.

Etheridge said he fired Stephens last week, but the firefighter will stay on paid leave until his case is appealed, which is city policy.

In a LaFayette City Council meeting Monday night, council members went into executive session to discuss the appeal, Etheridge said.

The official appeal hearing will be March 20 before the council, he said, and council members can overrule the decision by a majority vote.

about Joy Lukachick Smith...

Joy Lukachick Smith is the city government reporter for the Chattanooga Times Free Press. Since 2009, she's covered crime and court systems in North Georgia and rural Tennessee, landed an exclusive in-prison interview with a former cop convicted of killing his wife, exposed impropriety in an FBI-led, child-sex online sting and exposed corruption in government agencies. Earlier this year, Smith won the Malcolm Law Memorial Award for Investigative Reporting. She also won first place in ...

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