Dawson City Attorney Tommy Coleman says Mayor Chris Wright sought 24-hour police protection

Dawson attorney says protection of injured mayor would cost city $14,600 monthly

DAWSON — Dawson City Attorney Tommy Coleman said Friday citizens here and others in the region concerned about the “no-protection” vote for Mayor Chris Wright taken by the Dawson City Council Thursday should understand more clearly what the council voted on before criticizing their action.

Wright had asked for a special called meeting Thursday to request around-the-clock protection by the Dawson Police Department while he recovers from multiple gunshot wounds. Wright was attacked at his home at around 10:30 p.m. on Halloween, and the GBI initially reported that the mayor was the victim of a “home invasion-type” attack.

The Georgia Conference of Black Mayors and members of the Dawson NAACP said at a previous news conference that they believed the attack on Wright was politically motivated. Wright echoed that sentiment in a call to The Albany Herald Thursday, his first public statement since the shooting.

“I believe the shooting was politically motivated, and that (4-2) vote (Thursday) proved it,” Wright, who said he is convalescing at an undisclosed location, told The Herald.

However, Coleman said Friday that Wright had asked for 24-hour police protection.

“The cost is not the only factor that the council considered, but the around-the-clock protection Mayor Wright was looking for would cost the citizens of Dawson $14,600 a month,” Coleman, an Albany attorney, said. “The council decided that’s not in the scope of what they should do. The prevailing decision was that the police would provide the same protection (for the mayor) that they do for all citizens.”

Coleman said Thursday after the council voted to deny the protection Wright sought that such police protection could open the city to potential liability. Coleman added Friday that Wright is cooperating with the GBI in its efforts to find his attacker.

Councilmen John Harris and Artie Gardner cast the two votes to provide protection for Wright, and Gardner said Thursday former Mayor Robert Albritten, whom Wright defeated in the 2011 mayoral race, continues to “run the city” through City Manager Barney Parnacott. Albritten, who served for 32 consecutive years as a city councilman and as mayor, denied the charges.

Attempts by The Herald to contact Paranacott have been unsuccessful.

City Councilmen Calvin Stephens, George Wilson, Sam Ward and Charlie Sanders voted to deny Wright the protection he sought.