Last month, Fulton Chief Deputy Caudell Jones and Maj. Orlando Whitehead were deposed in a $1.5 million lawsuit filed by a man named Tim Peck. Peck is suing the sheriff's department, the county, the off-duty Fulton deputy who arrested him and broke his legs, and the restaurant where the beating occurred.
In 140 pages of depositions filed in DeKalb County Superior Court, attorney Genevieve Frazier asked Jones and Whitehead about the sheriff's flawed internal affairs probe of Peck's beating and the repeated resurrection of Peck's criminal case. Peck's charges were filed and dismissed three times.
Jones conjured images of a ghostly presence in the Sheriff Jacquelyn Barrett's internal affairs division. And Whitehead made it seem OK to allow -- or perhaps order -- Deputy Kelvin Smith to seek an indictment against Peck after a judge had dropped Peck's charges and had called the deputy's actions "something that the law just cannot condone."
Peck's civil case is scheduled for trial June 2. If the depositions are any indication, the sheriff's department's defense will be marked by curious holes.
Within a month, District Attorney Paul Howard dropped Peck's indictment and began an investigation into allegations of abuse by Fulton deputies (Howard learned of the allegations after a grand juror alerted him to CL's coverage of Smith and other deputies' abuses). Barrett then fired Smith for physical abuse.
Ten months later, Peck's charges were filed yet again -- by the Fulton County Solicitor's Office. It's unclear how the third set of charges came to be; Peck's attorney says she's looking for evidence that they were resurrected by someone with ties to Smith or the sheriff's department. Chief Jones denied knowledge of the third charges in his deposition.
If the case goes to trial in June, it could be unpleasant timing for the sheriff's department. The Fulton County Commission announced this month its intent to conduct an "emergency management review" of the department based on allegations of a security breakdown at the jail, according to Susan Laccetti Meyers, senior policy analyst to Fulton Commission Chairman Mike Kenn.
Barrett declined comment for this story. But she told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, in relation to the review: "I know it is political." Barrett is an elected Democrat. Chairman Kenn is Republican.
"This is not a political thing," Meyers says. "We have no beef against the sheriff. We just want to make sure everybody is safe. The county doesn't need to get sued."
I went to the quarterly briefing last night and several points that are mentioned in…
Sarcasm check on Aisle 13.
Nomadologist: When I went to the southwest planning meeting last year, they said that the…
If this thing gets all tied up in the courts (and the curtain pulled back:…
"Watch out for that odd bedfellow"
You could wake up with fleas!