The first black police chief of an East Texas town has been fired over poor job performance. The Jasper City Council last night dismissed Chief Rodney Pearson. A council member called the dismissal "racism at its finest."

The Jasper City Council on Monday night dismissed Chief Pearson, who was hired last year. KFDM-TV reports council members questioned Pearson about how much vacation he's taken and other leadership issues.

May elections put new members on the Jasper City Council, replacing some elected officials who backed Pearson.

In 1998, the national spotlight was thrown on the East Texas town after three white men were arrested and later convicted of the dragging death of James Byrd Jr. One was executed last year, another faces lethal injection and the third is serving life in prison.

Jasper is a town of about 7,600, located 135 miles northeast of Houston.

 

Fatal Accident in Gladewater under Investigation

Police say a welding truck driven by Bradley Naismith, 41, lost control of his vehicle early Tuesday and struck two power poles before sideswiping a brick wall located just outside downtown Gladewater.

Officers investigating the crash say Naismith failed to negotiate a curve in the road and lost control in the 400 block of N. Main St. /Highway 271 and came to rest at Gregg St. near the Croley Funeral Home.

Naismith was pronounced dead at the scene. He was wearing a seatbelt and alcohol was observed in the vehicle but it is unknown at this time if alcohol contributed to the crash. The crash is still under investigation.

The wreck occurred at 1:35 a.m.