WAAY-31 continues to investigate the arrest of Huntsville City School Board member Michelle Watkins on Monday afternoon. It goes back to a case of alleged verbal harassment by Watkins after a school safety meeting at Jemison High School. WAAY-31 is looking for answers as to how the citizen able to obtain an arrest warrant through the city magistrates office after Huntsville police closed the case in October.
Watkins, who was released from jail just an hour after her arrest, released a statement to WAAY-31:
"In an effort to provide our schools with greater safety, supporting the decisions made by our superintendent to remove/reassign instructional leaders and ineffective staff has caused some to become disgruntled. As a result of my hard work for the students, parents, and taxpayers, I have been targeted and falsely accused of harassment. I am not only innocent but with assurance that in 2019, I will continue to be unbought, unbossed, and never bullied. I affirm that in the end the justice system will prevail."
Lt. Michael Johnson with the Huntsville Police Department he explained how investigators normally don’t obtain arrest warrants for misdemeanor crimes. He said the investigator will gather evidence and talk to witnesses. However, the task of getting a warrant up to the citizen.
Johnson said the only evidence in the claims against Watkins was video with no audio. He said the investigators closed the case for lack of evidence and because the citizen didn’t immediately get a warrant.
WAAY 31 called the city magistrates office to try to figure out how this citizen was able to get an arrest warrant for Watkins months after the alleged harassment, whether it was more evidence or witnesses testimony. They referred us to the city attorney's office, and we haven't heard back.
Huntsville City Schools spokesperson Keith Ward issued a statement that reads in part "The school district is aware of the situation involving a board member. The referenced situation falls outside the scope of the district administration."
We also reached out to school board president Beth Wilder to get her reaction. As of Tuesday morning she has not issued any kind of statement.