Jasper police chief fired, performance criticized

June 12, 2012 4:16:37 AM PDT
The first black police chief of an East Texas town made infamous for a 1998 hate crime dragging death has been fired over poor job performance.

The Jasper City Council on Monday night dismissed Chief Rodney Pearson, who was hired last year.

KFDM-TV reports council members questioned Pearson about how much vacation he's taken and other leadership issues.

Pearson later said his dismissal was "racism at its finest."

May elections put new members on the Jasper City Council, replacing some elected officials who backed Pearson.

Three white men were convicted of the June 1998 slaying of James Byrd Jr. One was executed last year, another faces lethal injection and the third is serving life in prison.

Jasper is a town of about 7,600, located 135 miles northeast of Houston.