Spanish Fort mayor found not guilty on slapping charge

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BAY MINETTE – Spanish Fort Mayor Mike McMillan was found not guilty of a charge that he slapped a city employee in 2019.

In a non-jury trial on Friday, Oct. 16, Baldwin County Circuit Judge James Reid ruled that the evidence presented did not justify convicting McMillan on a charge of harassment.

During the one-day trial, Lyndsey Cooper, a former city magistrate, testified that McMillan slapped her while she was working for the city on Oct. 1, 2019.

She said the incident began over a discussion of changes in the city website. Cooper said she had been working for about five months to redesign the site when she found that her work had been deleted. She was discussing the change with another employee, Carol Caldwell, when McMillan entered City Hall.

“The mayor came in and asked what was wrong,” she said. “None of us said anything and he asked why the sad faces.”

Cooper said Caldwell told McMillan that the website had been changed. The mayor said he would ask another employee what had happened. When the mayor came back, he said both websites should still be in the system.

He went to Caldwell’s desk and attempted to call up the site on her computer, Cooper said. She testified that McMillan attempted to swipe on the screen, but the computer did not have a touch-screen feature. She said she laughed when the mayor swiped the screen.

“He told me to shut up and turned and slapped me,” she said. “He took his right hand and struck me on the left side of my face. It didn’t hurt, but it just shocked me.”

Caldwell testified that McMillan came in and tried to call up the website but said she did not see the mayor slap Cooper. She said the mayor was standing between her and Cooper and she did not see or hear a slap.

Watching a security video of the incident during the trial Caldwell said it appeared that McMillan had struck Cooper.

Cooper said that after the incident, she and a co-worker, Ashley Tucker, looked at the video. She said Tucker recorded the video on her phone.

In cross examination, Cooper said she told another employee that she needed to see security video as part of her city court work. She said she did not tell the truth because she was afraid the video would be deleted before anyone could see it.

Testifying in his own defense, McMillan said he did not strike Cooper. He said he had been “talking with his hands,” during the conversation with Cooper and Caldwell.

Cooper reported the incident to City Clerk Mary Lynn Williams on Oct. 3 and filed a police report on Oct. 21. She said she was afraid that she would be fired because of the incident.

Cooper was fired in May, but city officials said the termination was because she refused an assignment to take temperatures of people entering City Hall as part of COVID-19 precautions. Cooper testified that she felt that she was fired for filing the charge against McMillan.