Supreme Court refuses to hear officer’s termination case

By HASKEL BURNS,

The Supreme Court of Mississippi has refused to hear the case of a former Hattiesburg Police Department officer who was fired in 2015 after allegedly having a sexual relationship with a 16-year-old girl, affirming the Mississippi Court of Appeals’ recent decision to uphold the termination.

The supreme court issued an order on Aug. 1 denying the request of Clint Breland, who was terminated after his inappropriate relationship with Christan Damiens came to light. Justices Michael Randolph, James Kitchens, Leslie King, Josiah Coleman, James Maxwell, Dawn Beam, Robert Chamberlin and David Ishee voted to deny Breland’s Writ of Certiorari, while Justice Kenneth Griffis did not participate.

Court documents released in November 2018 state that in 2011, Breland, who was then 34 years old, made a traffic stop on 16-year-old Damiens. Rather than issuing a ticket to Damiens, Breland issued her a warning, at which point the two began sharing personal information in person and online.

“They began meeting often while Breland was on and off duty,” the document states. “Within two to four weeks of meeting, they began having a sexual relationship, which lasted six to eight months.”

After officials became aware of the issue, Breland was terminated from HPD on Feb. 3, 2015, for conduct unbecoming an officer, neglect of duty and abuse of city time. Prior to the discharge, Breland and Damiens were given polygraph examinations, with Breland’s polygraph results indicating him to be “untruthful” during the examination.

Damiens later testified that she had sexual relations with Breland “pretty often,” including in his patrol car, with him in uniform on at least one occasion. She also testified that Breland “fixed” several other tickets that she had received for traffic violations.

Breland denied that he had sexual contact with Damiens while on duty, and said he ended the relationship in the summer of 2012 after he discovered Damiens had stolen items from his home and was using methamphetamine.

Damiens stated that during her initial questioning, she had been under the influence of drugs she had used the night before.

After Breland was fired, he appealed to the Hattiesburg Civil Service Commission, which upheld the termination. Forrest County Circuit Court Judge Jon Mark Weathers affirmed the termination in June 2017.

Breland then appealed to the Mississippi Court of Appeals, which in November 2018 affirmed Weathers’ decision. That decision was signed by Justices Joseph Lee, Tyree Irving, Kenneth Griffis, Donna Barnes, Virginia Carlton, Jack Wilson, Jim Greenlee, Latrice Westbrooks and Sean Tindell.

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