A Mobile Police officer who was disciplined after placing a suspect in a chokehold — an incident captured on video that went viral online — has resigned from the department while being investigated for a separate incident.
According to MPD spokesperson Charlette Solis, patrol officer Blake Duke submitted his resignation on Friday after being placed on administrative leave earlier this week as police investigate an “off-duty” incident he was involved in.
Lagniappe hasn’t been able to confirm any details about the incident itself.
Solis said no additional information could be released at this time, as MPD doesn’t discuss internal investigations or personnel decisions unless they’re appealed to the Mobile County Personnel Board.
Duke made news in February after a viral video showed him placing a detained suspect in a chokehold two times. Duke claimed the man was resisting arrest and had spat on him, though an investigation ultimately determined his actions violated MPD’s use-of-force policies.
Citing personnel policies, MPD Chief Lawrence Battiste could only say “appropriate actions” were taken to discipline Duke, but no details were disclosed. However, one of Duke’s on-scene supervisors during the “chokehold” incident, Sgt. Lori Alford, was demoted for failing to intervene during the situation. Alford has appealed her demotion to the personnel board, making it a matter of public record.
“Supervisors have a role in de-escalating situations that occur in the field,” Battiste told Lagniappe in a previous interview. “They’re responsible for directing a culture of professionalism and for making sure every officer under their command is following the code of ethics they’re sworn to uphold.”
Duke is one of a handful of MPD officers who have resigned or been terminated while under investigation over the past two months. As Lagniappe reported, officer Aaron Washington was terminated July 3 following an internal investigation. The department gave no details about why he was let go.
In May, a second police officer resigned from MPD’s impound yard following investigations into alleged misconduct. Former officer Alex Westry resigned amid the same investigation that led Sgt. Mark Hearn to leave the department in February. Both were arrested for felony theft and using their positions for personal gain a few days after Westry’s resignation in May.
According to a source with knowledge of the department’s operations, Hearn was accused of improperly accessing MPD’s impound lot through an adjacent radio shop and taking items from vehicles — behavior that was reportedly captured in security footage from outside the impound yard. The contents of impounded cars are supposed to be sold at regular public auctions hosted by MPD.
It’s still unclear what led to Westry’s charges, and MPD has been unable to provide any details so far.
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