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Tempers fly after Bonifay council meeting

BONIFAY – A Bonifay resident states he is planning to seek battery charges against a local fire official following an altercation that occurred after the September 13 meeting of the Bonifay City Council.

Video recently obtained by the Holmes County Times-Advertiser shows a heated exchange between Bonifay Fire Chief Larry Cook and Bonifay resident Wayne Powell in the moments immediately following the meeting.

Cook and Powell both state that the disagreement stemmed from Chief Cook directing comments at Powell during the meeting to chastise him for speaking while Chief Cook was addressing the council.

The video (attached) shows a heated exchange between Powell and Chief Cook, an exchange Powell claims continued in the parking lot with Chief Cook allegedly putting his hand on Powell’s arm in a “threatening manner.”

An informational report filed by the Bonifay Police Chief Chris Wells details the incident, stating Chief Wells observed Powell being restrained by his son, Jason Powell, and Chief Cook being redirected away from the confrontation by his son, Travis Cook.

The report states Chief Wells accompanied the men outside where the verbal altercation continued but that “all parties were finally dispersed and went their separate ways.”

“There was not any physical contact between Mr. Wayne Powell and Mr. Larry Cook outside of City Hall,” wrote Chief Wells in the report. “The only physical contact can be seen in the video surveillance of the council room. Both Mr. Wayne Powell and Mr. Jason Powell at different times placed a hand on the right shoulder of Mr. Larry Cook in a non-aggressive manner.”

Powell states he has witnesses that Cook did make physical contact with him outside and that he intends to pursue charges against Chief Cook.

“It is possible that Chief Wells didn’t see it happen,” Powell told the Times-Advertiser in an interview on Monday. “But I do have witnesses that [Cook] reached across me and put his hand on my arm, and I am moving forward with seeking charges.”

Bonifay City Hall and Bonifay Police Department each confirmed there are no security cameras facing the sidewalk area outside council chambers where the incident occurred.

Chief Cook declined to comment on the incident, saying simply, “I’ll let the video speak for itself.”

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