Former Eutaw Mayor Hattie Barnette Edwards was arrested, charged and arraigned by the city on Monday, January 23, 2017. Mayor Edwards is charged with Obstruction of Government Operations and Disorderly Conduct. The charges stemmed allegedly from separates incidents which occurred the day of the Eutaw Mayoral run-off election, October 4, 2017 and May 13, 2016.
Reportedly, on Oct. 4, the local police were questioning an individual (s) in the Branch Heights community when Mayor Edwards arrived on the scene. The police asked her to remove herself from the scene and Edwards asserted that as Mayor she had the authority to inquire into the situation.
On May 13 of 2016, Officer Clayton attempted to arrest a citizen in Eutaw on a warrant which had already been executed. Mayor Edwards brought this to the attention of the Chief of Police and the arrest was thwarted. Reportedly, this also relates to Edwards ‘Obstruction of Government Operations.’
Approximately, one week following the Oct. 4 incident, Mayor Edwards dismissed three Eutaw police officers, Robert Clayton, Lonnie Glynn and Rodriquez Jones for insubordination and lack of respect for the Office of the Mayor. All three were subsequently rehired by Mayor Raymond Steele when he took office in November.
Mayor Edwards reported that Clayton approached her after his dismissal in October and made what she considered to be threatening statements. She subsequently file charges against Clayton. No reports have been issued indicating his arrest.
On December 19, 2016, Eutaw police officer Robert Clayton filed a complaint against Edwards and secured a warrant from the City Magistrate for her arrest.
Edwards stated that she was out of town when the warrant was issued and upon her return, she went to city hall to ‘turn herself in’. According to Edwards she was immediately taken into custody, transported to the county jail, processed, placed in an orange prison jumpsuit and jailed. “I was not allowed to sign my own bond, nor was my aunt and other acquaintances allowed to post a property bond. My aunt had to secure cash to pay my bond of $185,” she stated. Edwards explained, that is not the usual procedures followed by the city. A person arrested by Eutaw police, with similar charges, is usually processed at city hall and allowed to sign his/her own bond.
Edwards was also directed to appear in Municipal Court at 5:00 p.m. on the same day as her arrest. Shortly before the Court was to begin, a group of community persons were denied entrance to City Hall. Eutaw police officers who blocked the entrance stated that only persons on the docket could enter the building, but they allowed other media personnel to enter. It was apparent they were trying to keep out supporters of Hattie Edwards. On the insistence of local persons that this was a public facility and the public should not be kept out, the officers finally relented and allowed the community to enter Eutaw City Hall.
Eutaw City Judge William Nick Underwood then continued Edwards’ case until Monday, March, 27, 2017. According to Edwards no apparent reason was given for this delay.
Edwards also claims that she was never allowed to have a copy of the detailed complaints against her.
Prior to press time, several attempts were made by the Democrat staff to contact Eutaw Mayor Raymond Steele who could hopefully provide clarity regarding these seemingly groundless charges brought against Hattie Edwards.