EUTAW, AL – Alphonso “Duke” Morton, a manager at Edgar’s Grocery, settled his case against three Alabama Beverage Control Board agents just prior to a trial that was set on March 27, 2017. G. Coe Baxter and Josh Hayes of the Tuscaloosa firm Prince, Glover & Hayes and Senator Hank Sanders of the Selma law firm Chestnut, Sanders & Sanders represented Morton during the litigation.
On April 16, 2009, the ABC Board conducted a minor sting operation where a minor was sent into Edgar’s Grocery in Eutaw to attempt to purchase alcohol underage. After the employees refused the sale to the minor, Morton, as instructed by Dan and Gavin Edgar, store owners, and as he was trained to do, attempted to call the police to report the underage minor. Subsequently, three ABC Board agents went inside Edgar’s grocery and, as Morton was making a phone call, snatched the phone out of his hand and violently threw him onto the floor.
The agents subdued Morton on the floor by putting their knees and feet on his neck and back even though Morton showed no resistance. The agents then booked Morton and placed him in jail on charges of Obstructing Governmental Operations and Resisting Arrest. Video surveillance footage of the incident clearly showed Morton did not commit any crime and the charges against him were eventually dropped.
On Thursday, July 16, 2009, District Attorney Greg Griggers, dropped all charges against Alphonzo Morton, Jr. This was the first time this incident had been to court, and before any action was taken, Griggers announced that all charges had been dropped.
At that time, Attorney Hank Sanders stated: “First, Mr. Morton’s record needs to be cleared and second, we need to help the ABC agents learn how to treat people.” Morton subsequently filed a suit against the ABC agents.
In response to his case settlement, Morton stated that he is happy it is finally resolved. “My attorneys worked hard and now I can say justice was done,” he said.
Coe Baxter, lead counsel for Morton, said, “I am very happy for Mr. Alphonzo Morton that we were able to successfully litigate this case to a settlement. It was a privilege to represent such a hardworking, gracious, and downright good man and this settlement clearly vindicates him.” Hank Sanders added, “The actions of the ABC agents were egregious and wrong. Mr. Morton did not deserve to be treated in such a manner and we are happy with this result which now vindicates him.”
Mr. Morton served one term of the Eutaw City Council since this incident. He also serves as a deacon at St. Paul United Methodist Church of Eutaw.