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Appeal denied for leg-breaking deputy 

Kelvin Smith, the Fulton County deputy who broke a man's legs while working off-duty security, cannot have his job back at the sheriff's department, the county Personnel Board has ruled.

In April 2001, Smith baton-whipped a restaurant patron at the Fox & Hounds, where the uniformed deputy was checking IDs. Smith claimed the customer, Tim Peck, deserved the beating: Peck allegedly cursed at Smith, swung at him and resisted arrest. Peck, who denied Smith's charges and claimed he only wanted to pick up a cheeseburger, left the restaurant on a stretcher with a shattered kneecap and a fractured shin.

The beating was the subject of an August 2001 CL article. Smith and other Fulton deputies, whose alleged abuses where outlined in subsequent CL stories, are currently under investigation by the Fulton County district attorney's office.

The sheriff's department's internal affairs division initially exonerated Smith in the Peck beating. But after a Fulton magistrate cleared Peck in January of felony obstruction and other charges -- and after the judge called the beating "something that the law just cannot condone" -- Smith was fired.

Smith appealed to the Personnel Board, arguing that Sheriff Jacquelyn Barrett fired him for personal and political reasons.

The board, citing flaws in internal affairs investigations, had reinstated in recent years two deputies fired by Barrett for physical abuse. But the decision in the Smith case was different. According to a Personnel Board order dated Sept. 26, mailed to the sheriff and Smith Oct. 4, the sheriff's decision to fire the deputy was "justified."

"[T]he causes given for the dismissal were clearly job-related," the order says, "and ... no extenuating circumstances existed at that time which would have warranted not imposing the dismissal."

Neither Smith nor his attorney could be reached for comment. Smith has a month to appeal the board's decision in Superior Court.

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