MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — Family members of a former Mobile Police Officer seriously injured in the line of duty say they’re not getting justice. Officer Clayton Graham was seriously injured in a crash in 2019 when a vehicle, driven by Shannon Chandler crashed into his patrol vehicle while he was responding to a call.
A sentencing hearing was held Tuesday morning. Despite repeated pleas from family members, including the recently retired Officer Graham, for the maximum sentence, Chandler was sentenced to three years in an Alabama Community Corrections diversion program, 100 hours of community service, and will have to pay nearly $6,600 in restitution. Family members say that the sentence is not justice.
“I think if the shoe were on the other foot, I would be doing time,” said retired Officer Graham after the hearing. “I feel really bad about it because I love my family, I love them dearly and I wish we could go and do it right.”
Judge Brandy Hambright said there are no winners here and no judge would want a case like this. The driver, Chandler, pled guilty to first-degree assault DUI in January. She tearfully apologized to Officer Graham and his family in court. Family members had victim impact statements saying this crash has torn the family apart. They were puzzled and disappointed by the sentence that was handed down.
“Crush up that police officer like that and cause him to have all this damage and multiple surgeries and have to deal with this for the rest of his life and you get a slap on the wrist,” said Clayton Graham’s wife Tamica Graham. Family members say Clayton Graham lives with persistent, constant pain that will never go away and only get worse as he ages.
“On a scale of 1-10, I’m dealing with about an 8 every day, every second, every minute, every hour and it hasn’t stopped,” said Officer Graham. Chandler is white and Officer Graham and his family are black. Family members sent this statement after the hearing:
“For the serious totality of injury and affect in a drunk driver incident, there was no justice at all (discrimination personified). History repeats itself even on a black police officer when the other person is white.”
We also reached out to the Mobile County DA’s Office for comment on this sentence. They said it was not the result of a plea bargain.
“Due to the circumstances of the case, an offer was never extended. On the day of trial (Jan 30, 2023), we were ready for trial, but the defendant chose to take a blind plea rather than a jury trial. At today’s sentencing, the state requested the maximum sentence.”