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Crime & Law

    Three people, including a 1-year-old boy, were shot early Friday morning at a South Fulton apartment complex, police said.  Officers responded to the triple shooting at the Hickory Park Apartments shortly after midnight, according to South Fulton police spokesman Lt. Derrick Rogers. Investigators at the scene in the 4900 block of Delano Road learned there was an argument about a burglary at one of the apartments inside the complex. “The argument became very heated and at some point, gunfire erupted resulting in the three victims receiving a gunshot wound,” Rogers told Channel 2 Action News in a statement. A stray bullet hit the 1-year-old boy in the leg, according to the news station. He is expected to be OK. The others are stable at a hospital, Lt. Marcus Dennard told Channel 2 from the scene. Their injuries are not considered life-threatening.  “I have no details on suspect(s) at this time and no names of the victims,” Rogers said in the statement.  We’re working to learn more. —Please return to AJC.com for updates. In other news:
  • A Newton County fine arts teacher faces two felonies for allegedly sexually assaulting students last month, authorities said. Christopher Ehren Matyas, born in 1980, of Covington, was arrested Thursday and charged with two counts of sexual assault by persons with supervisory or disciplinary authority, according to a sheriff’s office arrest report. He was a teacher at Alcovy High School, and both school employees and students reported the alleged sexual assaults on March 22, according to the police report obtained by Channel 2 Action News. Newton County School District spokeswoman Sherri Davis sent the news station a statement that said, in part:  “School officials launched an investigation and immediately reported the allegations to local law enforcement. Mr. Matyas was removed from the classroom setting and placed on leave during the course of the investigation. He will not return to the classroom.” He’s out of jail on a $16,700 bond, records show. In other news:
  • Calling it “tantamount to extortion,” Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard has nonetheless agreed to pay a former Fulton investigator $285,000 as part of a settlement of a 2-year-old sex discrimination lawsuit. Governor Henderson, who worked in the DA’s Crimes Against Women and Children Task Force, sued Howard and Cynthia Nwokocha, chief of the Criminal Investigations Division, in U.S. District Court after he was passed over for a senior position as human trafficking investigator. According to Henderson’s lawsuit, Nwokocha told him the job should be filled by a woman because “some jobs are not for certain people.” “Howard condoned and ratified Nwokocha’s policy of only hiring women for the said position, as evidenced by the fact that Howard had to confirm every woman that held the position,” the suit alleges. The settlement was reached following court-ordered mediation. “I think it stinks,” Howard told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “My office did not discriminate against Henderson or anyone else. It pains me to believe any money is provided to a person who stated he only wanted the job as a stepping stone to another unit in our office.” Atlanta attorney Mario Williams, who represented Henderson, said he was surprised by the DA’s comments. “If Paul Howard believes this was extortion, my client invites him to agree to release the audio recordings that were in direct evidence in this case,” said Williams, who declined to elaborate on what exactly is on those tapes. “Then we’ll let the public decide if it was extortion or not.” RELATED: Georgia rolls out new sexual harassment policy RELATED: Atlanta mayor bans salary history questions on city job applications In his suit, Henderson accused the defendants of attempting to conceal their “sex-based decision-making” by reopening the position after he filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Still, “the same, less-qualified woman who got the position before Henderson’s EEOC charge is the same less-qualified woman who remained in the position after the attempted cover up,” the lawsuit contends. The 23-year law enforcement veteran went on to accuse his former bosses of retaliating against him for filing the EEOC claim. They modified the minimum qualifications for a senior investigator position to include a college degree, the suit states, which Henderson does not have. Fulton County Attorney Patrise Perkins-Hooker said the settlement should not be interpreted as an admission of wrongdoing. “From time to time, the County Attorney’s Office recommends the settlement of litigation matters as a way of saving the taxpayers money for the cost incurred with litigation of this type,” Perkins-Hooker said.
  • Police have a woman in custody after two people were hit and injured by a car while crossing the street in Buckhead. A 50-year-old woman and a man in his late 20s were hit by a black Toyota Corolla around 7:45 p.m. Wednesday while crossing Peachtree Road near Collier Road, Atlanta police spokeswoman Stephanie Brown said. The two were in a crosswalk when they were hit. The woman was in critical condition when she was taken to a local hospital, Brown said. The man was conscious and breathing at the scene. Charges are pending against the driver, whose name has not been released. The specific charges she will face were not provided. An investigation into this incident is ongoing. In other news:
  • A former Cherokee County Schools police officer whose K-9 partner died inside a hot car was sentenced to three years of probation after pleading guilty Monday to animal cruelty and obstruction.  Daniel Peabody, a 16-year veteran of the Cherokee County School District’s police force, was arrested in June 2016 after leaving his police dog, Inka, inside his personal vehicle for nearly three hours after returning home from work.  RELATED: School police K-9 dies in patrol car It was determined the 4-year-old Belgian Malinois, who had been assigned to Peabody several years earlier, died of heatstroke. Investigators said Peabody, 53, left the dog in his car intentionally so he could help his wife with another animal inside their house. The former police lieutenant then forgot about the dog, he told authorities. Temperatures that afternoon reached upwards of 90 degrees, investigators said, though it would have been much hotter inside the car with its windows up. Peabody’s vehicle, a 2001 Ford Crown Victoria, was not equipped to transport police dogs, the Cherokee County Marshal’s Office said previously. An investigation raised questions about another police dog that lived with Peabody after being retired from service. Investigators said Peabody told them that dog, a yellow Labrador named Dale, died after choking on a tennis ball. “However, the investigation yielded evidence that Dale was in fact shot and killed by Peabody at his Paulding County home shortly after Dale was retired from service,” said Jamie Gianfala, deputy chief of the Cherokee County Marshal’s Office. Peabody told investigators he shot Dale in the head because the dog had health problems. The discovery prompted police to arrest him on charges of animal cruelty and making false statements. MORE: Dog’s remains exhumed after ex-officer charged in other animal’s death “Daniel Peabody was aware of the dangers of leaving a dog in a closed vehicle without proper ventilation. Even so, he intentionally left Inka in his car with the windows rolled up, and then forgot about her,” said Lara Ashley Snow, Cherokee County’s deputy chief assistant district attorney, who prosecuted the case. “It is also troubling that the defendant chose to shoot and bury a family pet, then lied about it to law enforcement.” The remains exhumed from Peabody’s former home, however, turned out not to be Dale but those of a third dog.  Snow acknowledged that prosecutors faced some “challenges” in their case against Peabody since Dale’s remains were never recovered and the statute of limitations for prosecuting the former cop for cruelty to animals had expired.  “Through this plea agreement, we were able to avoid a lengthy trial while ensuring that Mr. Peabody was convicted and held accountable for the death of both Inka and Dale, and that these crimes will remain on his record,” Cherokee County District Attorney Shannon Wallace said.  Peabody was sentenced to three years of probation, ordered to pay a $1,000 fine and perform 120 hours of community service. He cannot serve as a law enforcement officer for the duration of his sentence and is prohibited from owning or caring for animals for at least one year. In other news:   
  • A puppy was found tied in a sheet and dumped at a busy intersection in Florida, and the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office is asking for the public’s help to find the culprit. Sheriff Wayne Ivey posted the plea for help on Facebook on Tuesday night. >> Read more trending news  According to Ivey, a park employee found the puppy tied up at an intersection in Melbourne, Florida, around 8 a.m. Tuesday. “We want the person who did this in our jail. Anyone who would do this to an animal would certainly hurt a human. So, we need him safely behind bars at the Brevard County Jail,“ Ivey said. Ivey said the puppy most likely would have gotten run over by a car if it had not been found. The sheriff said the person who dropped the puppy in the road drove away in a small, black sports car. Anyone with information is asked to call the Melbourne Police Department Tip Line at 321-608-8477 or the department’s Animal Cruelty Unit at 321-633-2024.
  • A 2-year-old girl was fatally shot when a man opened fire at an Augusta home Tuesday evening after an argument with the child’s mother, authorities said. The toddler, identified as Ja’Ziah Pollard, was hit in the head when her mother’s live-in boyfriend kicked open the door to her Meadowbrook Drive home and fired once, according to investigators with the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office. She was taken to a local hospital, where she later died. The boyfriend, 28-year-old Marquie Gunter, was arrested and charged with murder. Gunter and Pollard’s mother share an infant child, but he is not related to the toddler, sheriff’s spokeswoman Sgt. Kimberly Lee said. The two were arguing over the use of a vehicle before Gunter allegedly started shooting. “Gunter discharged a firearm multiple times, striking the vehicle, which caused substantial damage,” Lee said in a statement. “After Ingram ran inside of the residence and closed and locked the door, Gunter kicked the door open and fired one time inside the residence from outside and struck Ja’Ziah Pollard in the head.” Authorities were called to the home about 7:45 p.m. after the child was shot, and Gunter was taken into custody. In addition to the murder charge, Gunter faces aggravated assault, second-degree criminal damage to property and weapons charges. As a felon, Gunter was not supposed to have a gun, authorities said. — Please return to AJC.com for updates.  In other news:
  • A driver accused of causing a collision in Cobb County that killed two fathers is in jail, records show. George Kevin Cambi, 19, of Austell, was arrested Monday on multiple charges, including two felony counts of first-degree homicide by vehicle, according to jail records. RELATED: 2 killed in Cobb County crash The charges stem from an April 7 crash that resulted in the deaths of James Wheeler, 31, of Acworth, and Douglas Duff Jr., 35, of Mableton. Cobb police officers were sent to the scene on Floyd and Bates roads in Austell, AJC.com previously reported. Police said a black 2010 Toyota Yaris was traveling westbound on Bates Drive toward Floyd Road. The Toyota turned left on Floyd Road and into the path of a red 2006 Infiniti G35, which was headed northbound on Floyd Road. The two vehicles collided. MORE: Families mourning 2 fathers killed in Cobb County crash Wheeler, who was driving the Toyota, and Duff, who was a passenger in the vehicle, were taken to WellStar Cobb Hospital, where they were pronounced dead, according to police. Cambi, who was driving the Infiniti, and his juvenile passenger were  treated for injuries that were not life-threatening. Suzanne Wheeler said her son, James, left behind his girlfriend and his 8-year-old son. “He was just a loving, caring person,” she told AJC.com soon after the crash. “He had a good heart. He would help anybody. He didn’t care who it was.”  Brittani Marotti, Duff’s sister, said her brother has three children, including an 8-month-old girl, Channel 2 Action News reported. Cambi is being held without bond in the Cobb County Adult Detention Center. In addition to the vehicular homicide charges, he is charged with racing on highway or streets, reckless driving and second-degree cruelty to children.  Cobb police spokesman Neil Penirelli said witnesses told officers the driver of the Infiniti was racing another vehicle moments before the crash. Police said Wednesday that the other vehicle, a silver 2007 Chevrolet Trailblazer, was located and impounded. It is not clear where the SUV was found. Police are still searching for the driver of the vehicle, however, Penirelli said.  Anyone with information about the case or the driver of the Chevrolet Trailblazer is urged to contact Cobb police at 770-499-3987.
  • A man was found shot to death inside a DeKalb County home Monday morning, police said. The unidentified victim was discovered in the living room of the residence on Lehigh Way, DeKalb police spokesman J.D. Spencer told AJC.com from the scene. He did not say how many times the man was shot, what led to the gunfire or if a weapon was recovered.  “There are no suspects in custody,” he said. Detectives are on the scene, which is northwest of Chapel Hill Park near Decatur. “The investigation is active and ongoing,” Spencer said. We’re working to learn more. — Please return to AJC.com for updates. In other news:
  • A DeKalb County woman fell to her death from a second-story apartment window after a domestic dispute became violent, police said. Mikle Allen Spann, 53, was taken into custody by DeKalb police officers arriving at an apartment complex on Concepts 21 Drive off Hillandale Road late Sunday night. Detectives determined there was an argument between the man and a 63-year-old woman that “turned physical,” and she fell, police spokesman Sgt. J.D. Spencer said. The woman died of her injuries at a local hospital, he said. She is not being named until her family is notified. Spann was booked into the DeKalb County Jail on a murder charge. Spencer did not disclose his relationship to the woman. We’re working to learn more. — Please return to AJC.com for updates.In other news: