HILLSBORO, Mo. (AP) — The mayor of a small town near St. Louis is trying to keep his job after his arrest for allegedly trying to start a fight with a sheriff’s deputy with whom he has a long-running feud.
Hillsboro, Missouri, Mayor Dennis Bradley was arrested Monday after confronting a Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department deputy on a gas station parking lot.
The sheriff’s department said Bradley yelled expletives at the deputy, followed him to his squad car, and challenged him to take off his badge and gun while poking him in the chest. The confrontation escalated and the deputy used pepper spray to subdue Bradley and arrest him on suspicion of stalking, resisting arrest and fourth-degree assault on a law enforcement officer.
Formal charges were not filed as of Thursday morning. Bradley was free from jail, but a judge granted the deputy’s request for a restraining order.
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Bradley, 65, said in a phone interview Thursday that the Hillsboro Board of Alderpersons is trying to push him out of office as a result of the arrest. City Administrator Jesse Wallis said in an email that no action against Bradley has been taken.
Bradley, who was elected in April, said he won’t step down.
“I told them, ‘This is still America,'” Bradley said. “I’m innocent until I’m proven guilty. These are probably misdemeanor charges. Why would I resign?”
Bradley said the strained relationship with the deputy dates back several years, since Bradley received what he believed was an unnecessary traffic ticket.
In 2014, the same deputy arrested a relative of Bradley’s. The mayor declined to name the relative or offer details about the reason for the arrest.
As for the latest confrontation, Bradley would not discuss specific details, citing the advice of his lawyer.
“Did I act inappropriately? Maybe so, just a little bit,” he said. “But then again, this is a very personal issue, an attack on my family.”
A judge on Tuesday granted the deputy’s request for a restraining order. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that the deputy claimed in the petition that Bradley has followed him while the deputy was on duty and berated him while he tried to work.
Hillsboro, with 3,100 residents, is 40 miles south of St. Louis.