On Tuesday morning press conferences were held by DeKalb County Sheriff Thomas Brown, and members of the family whose video of harassment by DeKalb County Sheriff Deputies went viral online.
Brown said that he was “appalled” by the words of the deputies. He continued and said that he took issue with both the language that was recorded on the tape, and the behavior of the sergeant in charge.
“I look for a leader to take charge of the situation, deescalate it, as opposed to escalating it. He did not do that, and then he failed to control his people once they got in the room,” he said. “That’s why he’s not a sergeant. Because he didn’t take command of the situation when he got there.”
Sergeant Dan McGhee was demoted as the result of his actions on July 26. Three deputies were also disciplined: Dep. Ray Hunt will be suspended for two days, and Deputies Charles Dix and Aaron Jackson will both be suspended for one day.
McGhee had previously planned on retiring, and his demotion will not affect his pay after his retirement; the salaries of Sheriff’s Department retirees is based on their highest paid three years of service. However, the information surrounding the episode will remain in McGhee’s personnel file and will follow him for life.
Brown previously called the deputies’ “verbal abuse” inappropriate and said that it is not representative of the department.
“It just simply is not the standard that I expect from any of my deputies in the Dekalb County Sheriff’s office and that’s one that I’m going to have to retrain and where appropriate give appropriate discipline to,” he said.
Brown added on Tuesday that he is trying to schedule a time for the family to come in to the department and talk about the incident. He also described policy changes that the sheriff’s department is implementing as a result of what occurred: the sheriff’s department will serve civil warrants only once per week, it will not execute civil warrants after 11:30 p.m. and it will look at checking the criminal histories of everyone they plan on running civil warrants on so that they can know whether to expect a violent conflict.
Later that morning, Natania Griffin, the woman the deputies were looking for in the early hours of July 26 because she was late in paying a $1,000 fee, said that she was happy that the disciplinary process has started. However, she said that she will not be satisfied until “all the officers involved in this matter are fired and are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”
In response to the policy changes, Griffin said she appreciates the fact that the deputies “saw the error of their own conduct,” and added that “it also lends to the fact that what they were doing was wrong, and they’re fully aware that their conduct was grossly inappropriate.”
Griffin’s son Donovan Hall said that as a result of his encounter with the deputies he still has pain in his elbow and shoulder, and gets migraines “all the time.”
Griffin continued, “We are not only fighting on behalf of ourselves, we are fighting for everyone who has ever been a victim of this kind of malicious abuse in their homes, anyone who has not felt like they had the power to be able to speak out against such an offense, and didn’t have a videotape to prove what occurred.”