By April Barbe

Four lawsuits against the City of Jacksonville, which date back to 2004, are being “vigorously defended,” according to Jacksonville City Attorney Joe Angle.

“These cases are still active,” Angle said.

Jacksonville City Council members discussed the cases with Angle during Tuesday night’s regular city council meeting – in executive session.

Three of the four cases involve former Jacksonville Police Office Larry Pugh, who recently pled guilty to retaliation against a witness and two counts of violation of civil rights, before a federal magistrate in Tyler.

Pugh was suspended from the JPD in October, 2005, pending an investigation into claims of sexual misconduct. He was later terminated after being arrested by Federal Bureau of Investigation agents for claims of sexual assault while on duty, which are violations of civil rights.

The city cases against Pugh include; Leslie Joyce Hinton, et. al. v. Larry Pugh, et. al., Larry Lacey v. Larry Pugh, et. al. and Evelyn Lewis v. Larry Pugh, et. al.

According to Angle, the Hinton case is related to the Tomato Bowl incident in 2004, where fighting began during a Jacksonville High School homecoming game.

“The Larry Lacey case is about undue force, and the Lewis case is based on a sexual misconduct claim,” Angle said.

In November 2005, Lacey gave his story, exclusively, to the Jacksonville Daily Progress. Lacey claimed he was stopped while driving in the vicinity of Patton and Monroe streets by Pugh for an expired registration sticker. However, while following Lacey’s vehicle to.check his license plates, Pugh claimed Lacey failed to use his turn signal for the required distance, according to the police report.

During the traffic stop, Lacey said he was unjustly sprayed with pepper spray and repeatedly hit with a police asp baton.

Pugh claimed in his report to be in fear for his safety when Lacey began approaching his vehicle after the stop and for Lacey’s safety after Lacey refused to move from the lane of traffic.

Lacey was charged with resisting arrest for the incident. He is a former corporal with the Rusk Police Department.

Angle said since all four cases are ongoing, he is limited in what he can release about them, stating if settlements are reached the cases will reach conclusions sooner than if they go to trial.

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