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Hearing for shot former chief drug agent delayed

By Seth Burkett 340-2355

A hearing has not been scheduled for Morgan County's former chief drug agent, who is out of the hospital after accidentally shooting himself.

George Rutherford's gun went off as he tried to conceal it in his pants when a deputy stopped to investigate why Rutherford was walking along the side of Alabama 36 near Somerville with his 8-year-old daughter at about 9:20 p.m. on April 19, according to Sheriff Greg Bartlett. Rutherford was apparently intoxicated, Bartlett said.

Rutherford was on paid sick leave at the time as a result of a prior disciplinary action. He remains on sick leave.

Chief Deputy Mike Corley said he is unsure when a hearing will take place, although Huntsville Hospital released Rutherford about a week ago.

The Sheriff's Department originally said a hearing on
the incident would take
place immediately upon Rutherford's release from the hospital.

Missing information

"That was the intention," Corley said, "but we don't have one crucial piece of information we need. Plus, his immobility is a problem. The only way he can travel anywhere right now is by ambulance."

The missing piece of evidence is the toxicology
report subpoenaed from the hospital, which has yet to arrive.

"We're just about through with our part, as far as the internal investigation that we'll present to the sheriff," Corley said.

"It's not something we're going to prolong," he said. "It's something we're going to address head-on and openly."

Bartlett took disciplinary action against Rutherford in March following an investigation into harassment reports filed by Rutherford's brother and estranged wife.

Rutherford was demoted from lieutenant to sergeant,
removed from his post
with the Drug Task Force and placed on leave without pay for a week.

Since then, he has been using accumulated sick leave while waiting for a counselor to clear him to return to work.

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