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Latest from Philip Holloway

    Garrett Rolfe is legally entitled to bond following his arrest for murder following the shooting death of Rayshard Brooks. Shortly after he surrendered to authorities, Attorneys for Rolfe filed an “Emergency Motion for Bond.” Under Georgia law, bond in a murder case can only be set by a Superior Court judge. The Superior Courts are the highest-level trial court that exists in the state. According to the Official Code of Georgia (O.C.G.A. 17-6-1), the defendant bears the burden of proof to establish that he or she is entitled to bail according to the following criteria:  (e) A court shall be authorized to release a person on bail if the court finds that the person:  (1) Poses no significant risk of fleeing from the jurisdiction of the court or failing to appear in court when required;  (2) Poses no significant threat or danger to any person, to the community, or to any property in the community;  (3) Poses no significant risk of committing any felony pending trial; and  (4) Poses no significant risk of intimidating witnesses or otherwise obstructing the administration of justice.  Using these factors, and applying what we know about Garrett Rolfe, it appears he is entitled to bond.  First, Rolfe is not a flight risk. He has substantial ties to the community. He is a resident of the metro-Atlanta area, he has many local family members, he voluntarily surrendered himself to custody, and he has retained counsel. All of this suggests Rolfe is not a flight risk and will appear in court when required.  Secondly, there is no reason to believe Rolfe is a threat to any person, to the community, or to any property in the community. Rolfe has no known criminal history and considering Rolfe was a police officer who passed a background check, it is unlikely there is any criminal history.  >>Below are images of Rolfe’s official emergency motion for bond. The same analysis suggests Rolfe poses no risk of committing any felonies while awaiting trial and that he is not a risk to intimidate any witnesses or to obstruct the administration of justice.  The real question is what would a bond for Rolfe look like? What amount is appropriate? Would any conditions – such as a curfew or ankle monitor - be attached? Judges have wide discretion on these points. Considering that Rolfe is presumed to be innocent and that bail is not supposed to be punitive in nature, the defense may argue for a signature bond (meaning no actual money posted) with few, if any conditions. The District Attorney has publicly stated he is opposed to any bond. So even though there is a strong case in favor of the granting of a bond, this is a question left to the discretion of one Superior Court Judge.
  • Indigent defense is a complicated issue. Criminal defendants have an absolute constitutional right to be represented by competent counsel and the government has to provide counsel for defendants who cannot afford a lawyer. It doesn’t stop there, however. There is more to indigent defense than simply paying the lawyer. A lawyer without resources for investigators and even expert witnesses is like a captain without a ship. As far back as 1957 the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit explained:   Furnishing … a lawyer is not enough: the best lawyer in the world cannot competently defend an accused person if the lawyer cannot obtain existing evidence crucial to the defense, e.g., if the defendant cannot pay the fee of an investigator to find a pivotal missing witness or a necessary document, or that of an expert accountant or a mining engineer or chemist. It might indeed be argued that for the government to defray such expenses which the indigent accused cannot meet, is essential to that assistance of counsel which the Sixth Amendment guarantees …. In such circumstances, if the government does not supply the funds, justice is denied the poor—and represents but a upper-bracket privilege. Most counties in Georgia have a public defender’s office. The Georgia Public Defender Council (GPDC) was created in 2003 and is funded by taxpayers to handle the majority of indigent defense in Georgia. Some indigent defense happens outside this system however. The Grinstead murder trial is one such instance. Ryan Alexander Duke is scheduled to stand trial in Irwin County, Georgia for the murder of high school teacher and beauty queen Tara Grinstead. Duke was arrested with great fanfare in February 2017 for the 2005 alleged murder of Grinstead. He was represented for the next year and a half or so by the public defender’s office for the Tifton Judicial Circuit. He later elected to accept the volunteer services of three Atlanta-area lawyers. His defense is a complicated one and the evidence in the case appears to be extremely voluminous, hyper-technical in some ways, and convoluted. Among other things, the defense is alleging his incriminating statements to investigators qualifies as a “false confession.” For these reasons, the Duke defense team has asked the court to provide funds to pay for defense resources such as investigators and expert witnesses – the sort of resources that any lawyer, prosecutor or defense attorney, needs to properly prepare for and conduct a trial of this magnitude. So far, this funding has been denied. Mr. Duke is of course presumed to be innocent and he is clearly indigent. His election to accept pro bono services of three private attorneys has not changed his indigency. Ironically for Duke, because he accepted the services of volunteer lawyers of his own choosing, he may have to defend himself without the resources he would have had if stayed with the public defender’s office. This illustrates a broader problem with indigent defense in Georgia: How does an indigent defendant level the playing field when represented by private counsel? The Georgia Public Defender Council as an independent state agency and by law is “responsible for assuring that adequate and effective legal representation is provided, independently of political considerations or private interests, to indigent persons…” In 1986, The Georgia Supreme Court held that an indigent defendant has a right to state funds to pay for expert witnesses as related to “critical evidence” that might be open to interpretation among experts. Specifically, the Georgia Supreme Court said that a trial court shall order payment of these funds from public coffers. Every year the legislature funds the GPDC so the GPDC can do its work and pay experts and investigators as needed. The legislature has not made the same provision to fund indigent defense when it occurs outside the framework of the GPDC. So, if the GPDC doesn’t agree to pay these costs, who does? There can be only one answer: the county where the case is pending. But what if the county simply can’t afford it? What if there is a case so big and so complicated that any given county just doesn’t have the money? What if due process and the right to effective counsel demand monies to be paid yet a county – or a court – refuses? Prior to the creation of the GPDC the procedure for obtaining public funds for experts was fairly simple. It was outlined by the Georgia Supreme Court in 1988. Defense counsel – usually court appointed – files a sealed motion with the court explaining what was needed and why. These requests were / are routinely approved so long as the price tag was reasonable. The creation of the GPDC did not abolish this procedure and it is still the norm in many counties in Georgia where indigent defendants are represented by counsel outside of the public defender system. Now back to the earlier question - What if due process and the right to effective counsel demand monies to be paid yet a county – or a court – refuses? Well, in the event of a conviction an appellate reversal may occur. If a trial was expensive the first time around it will be extra costly the second time around. It’s more important to get it right the first time. Judges are obligated to ensure that due process happens in our courts so if the state won’t provide the necessary resources counties are just going to have to step up – and pay up. Philip Holloway, WSB legal analyst, is a criminal lawyer who heads his own firm in Cobb County, Georgia. A former prosecutor and adjunct professor of criminal justice, he is former president of the Cobb County Bar Association's criminal law section. Follow him on Twitter: @PhilHollowayEsq The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author. 
  • From a court watcher’s perspective it’s apparent to most that the upcoming trial of Ryan Duke, charged with the 2005 murder of South Georgia high school teacher Tara Grinstead is sure to be nothing short of a spectacle of epic proportions. We got a preview of things to come during - of all things - a bond hearing where Duke asked, for the first time in two years, to be released on bond. It wasn’t the denial of bond, nor the fact that Duke asked for bond that is particularly noteworthy. It’s what the bond hearing devolved into that raised eyebrows. Despite losing the motion, the defense unexpectedly was able to depose the lead GBI investigator on a wide range of topics in a dress rehearsal for what promises to be a most controversial trial.  To start, let’s have a look at what a bond hearing is supposed to be.  It’s uncommon for bond to be set in murder cases but it’s not unheard of. Courts are supposed to consider the following factors in making bond decisions and the burden of proof is on the defendant to show that he:  Poses no significant risk of fleeing from the jurisdiction of the court or failing to appear in court when required;  Poses no significant threat or danger to any person, to the community, or to any property in the community;  Poses no significant risk of committing any felony pending trial; and  Poses no significant risk of intimidating witnesses or otherwise obstructing the administration of justice.  Probable cause is not an issue and of course neither is guilt or innocence. A bond hearing is not a trial.  The Duke bond hearing started out as most bond hearings do. The defense called Duke’s brother to testify regarding each of the factors set out above. But then it started a downward spiral into the surreal when the prosecutor called the lead GBI case agent as a witness - presumably as a rebuttal to the defense. A state’s witness, such as an investigator, can occasionally testify - to a point - about “what happened” because that’s relevant - to a point - for the court to determine whether the person poses a danger to the community. But in this case, the testimony was literally all over the place and went into minute detail about many things that have never been heard before. The “bond hearing” was effectively transformed into a deposition - a legal luxury not normally available to a criminal defendant in Georgia.  So just what did we learn from this “bond” hearing? We learned that DNA from the bodily fluid of a police officer was mixed with the victim’s blood on some bedding and that “touch DNA” from Grinstead and Duke (along with DNA from at least two other people) was on a latex glove found outside her residence. “Touch DNA” has its own share of problems in terms of reliability and we can safely expect the defense to explore those problems at trial. Some of that other unidentified DNA from the glove could have come from Bo Dukes - the person accused of helping cover up the murder - and who the defense claims is the actual killer.  We learned there were many investigative steps that could have been taken to verify statements made by both Duke and Dukes. The defense will argue that these follow up steps point to a biased investigation. This could have a huge impact in a trial where the defense will claim that the defendants confession was a false confession.  We learned the GBI, in a breach of protocol and constitutional law, interviewed / talked with Duke twice after he had a lawyer. These interviews were undocumented in the GBI case file. They were not recorded. The DA apparently was unaware at the time that this tactic was being employed by the GBI until the defense raised it with them. The agent didn’t even sign in at the jail. We can only speculate as to why not.  On top of all this, an abundance of otherwise inadmissible evidence consisting of hearsay and innuendo managed to come out publicly at a bond hearing. Most of this wouldn’t have seen the light of day at a trial. As the prosecution correctly pointed out “hearsay” may be admissible at a bond hearing, but it still has to be reliable evidence - not a regurgitation of all the salacious rumors from 2005. And it must be relevant to the issue of bond. It may turn out that the DA made a great tactical mistake by calling their lead case agent to testify and turn this bond hearing into an evidentiary free-for-all with no apparent boundaries. At a minimum it was surely heartbreaking for friends and family of the victim to have to re-live all the pain of the last 13 years by having old wounds reopened in such painful detail.  I’ve previously written about why the venue for this trial really needs to be changed. Now more than ever the jury pool is really tainted - as if it weren’t already. Philip Holloway, WSB legal analyst, is a criminal lawyer who heads his own firm in Cobb County, Georgia. A former prosecutor and adjunct professor of criminal justice, he is former president of the Cobb County Bar Association's criminal law section. Follow him on Twitter: @PhilHollowayEsq The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author. 
  • Irwin County Superior Court Judge Bill Reinhardt appears set to attempt to seat a jury of Irwin County residents in the trial of Ryan Alexander Duke. Duke is charged with the 2005 murder of Irwin County High School teacher and beauty queen Tara Grinstead. The defense asked for a change of venue, the State did not oppose the change, yet the judge has declined. In my view, this is a mistake. This is a case I have followed closely since the beginning. Way back in what seems like another lifetime I was a police officer in the tiny South Georgia town. I grew up in the area and have even practiced law there. Things are just different there. There's really no other way to put it. It's a great place to live and work but it simply has its own unique character. And the same thing holds true for the local legal system. But a unique local 'flavor' can't outweigh due process and absolute right that a defendant has to a fair trial nor can it outweigh the public's strong interest in a process that yields a result that it can have confidence in. In Georgia, criminal defendants have a constitutional right to be tried in the county where the crime is alleged to have occurred. Defendants can waive this right however and seek a trial elsewhere if a fair and impartial jury can't be seated in that county. At any given time, the population of Irwin County is only about ten thousand people. This case touched nearly every person in Irwin County – personally – in one way or another. It was the local citizens who went door-to-door and field-to-field conducting searches for Tara Grinstead in the days, weeks, and months following her disappearance. It's the local citizens who talk about the case day in and day out in homes, restaurants, offices, and other gatherings. It's the locals who read the local paper when leaked excerpts from the GBI case file were published that described Ryan Duke's incriminating statements to law enforcement on the day of his 2017 arrest. It was the local community that loved their high school history teacher. It's the local community that's locked in a continual debate about whether the authorities have charged the right person. On top of all this, the pretrial publicity has been – and will continue to be – extreme and pervasive. Opinions are strong. The bottom line is that nearly everyone in Irwin County has likely heard of the case and surely a great deal has actually been personally affected by it in some way. Besides helping to ensure a fair trial, there are practical reasons why moving the trial just makes good sense. Chief among those practical reasons is this: in the event of a conviction, the issue of venue will be a major part of the appeal and changing venue removes that consideration. This is a strategic reason why the DA most likely did not oppose the change of venue. He doesn't want to have to try this case twice. In the event of a conviction, the DA needs as few appellate issues to deal with as possible. Moving any trial is no small feat. Logistically it's been described as more difficult than taking a three ring circus on the road. It's expensive too. Irwin County just doesn't have the financial resources that a larger jurisdiction has and moving a trial the likes of this one could cause major financial and other upheaval in terms of government resources. None of these considerations outweigh the right to a fair trial, however, and none of them outweigh the public's right to have confidence in the integrity of the process. Philip Holloway, WSB legal analyst, is a criminal lawyer who heads his own firm in Cobb County, Georgia. A former prosecutor and adjunct professor of criminal justice, he is former president of the Cobb County Bar Association's criminal law section. Follow him on Twitter: @PhilHollowayEsq The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.  
  • Police use of force, deadly or otherwise, has been a particularly hot topic in the news in recent years. In this age of social media and near real-time access to cell phone and other video of law enforcement activity it's inevitable that police work, which has always had an element of violence associated with it, would come under an unprecedented degree of scrutiny. Traditionally, nearly all police work occurred 'out of sight' and accordingly was 'out of mind' - at least to the general public. But those days are over and the police and the public are having to adjust to this 'new normal.'  When I went to the police academy in 1989, I remember being taught in no uncertain terms that deadly force was authorized to stop a fleeing felon. In other words, we were told we could shoot someone who was a felon if they were running away from us. Fortunately I was never in a position to test that dubious training. Police training in all subjects is now light years ahead of where it was then. Training in the area of use of force is even further ahead in my view.  So what is the law in this area? Can an officer lawfully use lethal force against a felon who is merely running away? The answer of course is no. But unfortunately most examples are not that clear.  When we look at any police use of force, there is one word in the English language to consider. That word is: reasonableness  In 1989 the Supreme Court of The United States decided the landmark case of Graham v. Connor and the precedent set by Graham has been the foundation of police training on use of force ever since.  Graham provides that any use of force incident -deadly or otherwise - must be 'objectively reasonable' under the totality of the circumstances and that '[t]he 'reasonableness' of a particular use of force must be judged from the perspective of a reasonable officer on the scene, rather than with the 20/20 vision of hindsight.' It also clarified 'the 'reasonableness' inquiry in an excessive force case is an objective one: the question is whether the officers' actions are 'objectively reasonable' in light of the facts and circumstances confronting them, without regard to their underlying intent or motivation.'  The State of Georgia adds to the federal standard. In two ways. The first way is by the statutory law. Georgia’s self-defense law is Georgia Code 16-3-21 states that: “(a) A person is justified in threatening or using force against another when and to the extent that he or she reasonably believes that such threat or force is necessary to defend himself or herself or a third person against such other´s imminent use of unlawful force… [and] a person is justified in using force which is intended or likely to cause death or great bodily harm only if he or she reasonably believes that such force is necessary to prevent death or great bodily injury to himself or herself or a third person or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony. Georgia law also addresses police use of force specifically in code section 17-4-20. That law says “peace officers … may use deadly force to apprehend a suspected felon only when the officer reasonably believes that the suspect possesses a deadly weapon or any object, device, or instrument which, when used offensively against a person, is likely to or actually does result in serious bodily injury; when the officer reasonably believes that the suspect poses an immediate threat of physical violence to the officer or others; or when there is probable cause to believe that the suspect has committed a crime involving the infliction or threatened infliction of serious physical harm” The second way is grounded in police training. At least once per year, all officers must undergo training in use of force and de-escalation. That training centers around the federal and state laws that apply to the use of force as well as agency-specific policies. The key points of this training on deadly force are that police may use deadly force in any of the following scenarios: A suspect possesses a deadly weapon; or A suspect poses an immediate threat of physical violence to the officer or others; or The suspect has committed a crime involving the infliction or threatened infliction of serious physical harm So the next time we see a viral video of a police shooting or other use of force incident try to apply the apply the Graham standard to it and you'll find that it can be extremely difficult to immediately decide whether it was 'justified.' In fact, the Graham case tells us that these things require a careful, deliberate, and thorough investigation into all the facts and circumstances before deciding that issue. Rarely - if ever - are knee jerk decisions based on a single video or social media post helpful. It's worth noting that under the Graham analysis, the presence or absence of a weapon doesn't prove anything either way. The presence of absence of a weapon is merely one factor that must be considered along with the totality of all other circumstances.  Police work can be - by it's very nature - quite ugly and violent. It's never like it is on TV or in the movies. But it is real life and involves real people. We demand that our police swear to support and defend the constitution and laws so we must in turn judge them - and their actions - according to the constitution and laws as interpreted by the courts. Unlike the court of public opinion or social media, courts and investigators don't have the luxury of picking and choosing what parts of the constitution to apply - in these cases they must follow the Graham analysis to wherever it leads - even if it leads to an unpopular place.  And by the way, it turns out that the 'Fleeing Felon Rule' - which I was taught about in the police academy in 1989 was an old rule, grounded in the old English common law that was largely done away with in 1985 when the Supreme Court decided Tennessee v. Garner and held that the police could be sued for shooting a 15 year-old who was merely fleeing and who otherwise posed no lethal threat. In other words, shooting Garner was not 'reasonable.' Philip Holloway, WSB legal analyst, is a criminal lawyer who heads his own firm in Cobb County, Georgia. A former prosecutor and adjunct professor of criminal justice, he is former president of the Cobb County Bar Association's criminal law section. Follow him on Twitter: @PhilHollowayEsq The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.
  • Philip Holloway

    Legal Analyst

    Philip Holloway is the founder of the Holloway Law Group based in Cobb County, Georgia. A former prosecutor and police officer, he has a wide range of experience in legal matters and law enforcement matters, both as a practicing attorney and as a media analyst. Philip is also an excellent political analyst where law and politics intersect.

    Holloway's primary focus is criminal law, and he appears regularly in various courts in the state of Georgia. His cases include criminal defense, juvenile law, police law (including police brutality), military law and select civil litigation. He is a legal adviser to the Oconee County, Georgia sheriff's office and maintains his certification with the Georgia Peace Officer Standards and Training Council. Police use-of-force and investigative tactics are among his areas of specialty.

    A native Georgian, former police instructor and certified flight instructor, Holloway began his legal career after graduating summa cum laude in 1996 from South Texas College of Law, where he was on law review and the varsity mock trial team. He went on to serve as an officer and judge advocate in the U.S. Navy.

    While on active duty, Holloway, then a lieutenant, graduated from the Naval Justice School's trial advocacy course and earned certification as trial and defense counsel. Holloway has also served as an assistant district attorney, president of the Cobb County Bar Association's criminal law section and has sat as a substitute judge. He has been an adjunct professor of criminal justice at Kennesaw State University. Philip is admitted to practice law in Georgia, Ohio and the federal courts and is a member of the Bar of the U.S. Supreme Court. Philip is also a contributor and consultant to the blockbuster podcast "Up And Vanished" 

    WebsiteHollowayLawGroup.com

    Twitter@PhilHollowayEsq

    Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/philiphollwaymedia/

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News

  • Antonio Arnelo Smith was walking along a Georgia roadway in February when the first Valdosta police officer approached him. As Officer Dominic Henry questioned Smith about panhandling reported outside a nearby Walgreens, a second officer, Sgt. Billy Wheeler, came up behind Smith and, without warning, placed him in a bear hug. Moments later, Wheeler slammed Smith to the ground. “Oh my God, you broke my wrist!” Smith, 46, cried out as two more officers arrived and helped Wheeler hold down Smith. As Smith cried and screamed in pain, Wheeler advised him he was under arrest for outstanding felony warrants. The only problem: Wheeler had the wrong man. The entire interaction was captured on body camera footage. The allegations against Wheeler and the other officers are laid out in a federal lawsuit Smith’s attorney filed last month. “When you see that video, you can’t help but say this is a travesty,” Nathaniel Haugabrook, one of Smith’s attorneys, told The Associated Press. “Nobody should be done that way.” The civil rights lawsuit names as defendants the four officers involved in the stop, the police chief, the mayor, city council members, the city itself and the police department. Haugabrook said he believes his client was stopped simply because he is Black. Though Henry is Black, Wheeler and the other two officers named in the suit are white. “Obviously it has some racial tones to it,” he told the AP. Valdosta police Chief Leslie Manahan argued in a statement last month that officers did their jobs and, despite no charges being filed against Smith, that they had the right person regarding the panhandling. “We did have the right guy stopped that was causing the problem at Walgreens,” Manahan told WALB in Albany. “It’s just unfortunate he was not the one with the felony warrants.” She cited miscommunications in radio traffic as the cause of the problem. “Those are things that yes, we can work on that as an agency, and work to continue training our officers better and better communication skills with each other,” the chief said. A Black man in a hoodie Smith’s violent encounter with police stayed below the public radar until Haugabrook filed the federal lawsuit June 19. Valdosta police officials issued a lengthy statement a few days later, along with one officer’s body camera footage. That footage, taken from Wheeler’s camera, fails to show the actual takedown of Smith because when Wheeler placed him in a bear hug, Smith’s back was pressed against the lens. The AP reported that additional body camera footage was not released until after the Valdosta Daily Times published footage obtained from Haugabrook. See the initial body camera footage released by Valdosta police officials below.  Read the Valdosta Police Department’s entire statement here.  Smith was at Walgreens around noon Feb. 8 awaiting some money his sister was sending him via Western Union, according to a March 20 letter, called an ante litem notice, Haugabrook sent to Valdosta city officials warning of the impending lawsuit. Both Henry and Officer Rachel Hinton had gone to the pharmacy in response to the call about a panhandler bothering customers. Each would encounter a man fitting the description given by employees: a Black man wearing a brown hoodie, according to police. Court documents state that Hinton stopped a man for questioning on the north side of the pharmacy. She asked Henry to check the west side of the building for anyone else who could be the alleged panhandler. En route to the side of the building, Henry encountered a customer who told him the man had walked south out of the parking lot. Read attorney Nathaniel Haugabrook’s ante litem notice to Valdosta city and police officials below.  “While (Hinton) was running the identification provided by the (first) subject, it was learned that he had active felony arrest warrants,” Valdosta police officials said. “This police band communication between the first officer and dispatch was overheard by other officers arriving at the location. “At approximately same time, (Henry), on the opposite side of the store, located (Smith) walking in a southern direction away from Walgreens. The officer made contact with the subject, explaining to him that he was investigating a report of a suspicious person at Walgreens.” Smith gave Henry his identification and explained why he was in the area, according to the letter submitted with the federal lawsuit. In the video, Smith questions why he was stopped and appears upset but does not appear to pose a threat to the officer. “I’m waiting for the Western Union,” Smith tells Henry. “Call my sister right now in Florida. You have a cellphone. Call her.” “Call who?” Henry asks. “Call my sister in Florida,” Smith responds. He pleads with Henry: “Don’t do this.” ‘Oh my God, what are you doing?’ At that point, Wheeler, who had quietly come up behind Smith, grabs him by both arms from behind and puts him in a bear hug. Wheeler never announced his presence to Smith. “What are you doing?” a startled Smith says. “Oh my God, what are you doing?” Wheeler tells him to put his hands behind his back, a command he cannot follow because his arms are pinned at his sides. “Put your hands behind your back like you’re told,” Wheeler says, his face resting on Smith’s back as he holds him in place. A bewildered Smith again asks what Wheeler is doing, crying out as the officer picks him up and slams him onto the ground. Moments later, as the other two officers, identified in the lawsuit as Patrick Barrett and Hudson Durden, try to help get Smith into handcuffs, Smith cries out that Wheeler has broken his wrist. “Yeah, he might be broke,” Wheeler is heard saying. Watch the body camera footage obtained by The Associated Press below.  About a minute later, the officers remove the handcuffs and call for an ambulance. Smith questions why he is being arrested. “We have a warrant for your arrest,” one officer tells him. Henry corrected the officer, indicating that the man with active warrants had been taken into custody by Hinton. “The other guy is over there,” Henry says, pointing toward the pharmacy. “They pointed out two different people. They got the guy with a warrant.” He points down at Smith. “This guy, I just got contact with him,” he says. The video shows that the officers let Smith up off the ground. According to court documents, he left before the ambulance arrived. “As the video clearly demonstrates, each of the officers’ facial expressions and comments confirm that a grave and serious error had taken place when Sgt. Wheeler arrested and slammed Mr. Smith to the ground,” Haugabrook’s letter to Valdosta officials read. “Although an ambulance was called to the scene, Mr. Smith, scared and wanting to get away from the officers, refused treatment and walked away from the scene holding his arm.” He later went on his own to South Georgia Medical Center, where doctors confirmed that both his radius and ulna, the long bones of the forearm, were fractured at the wrist, court records show. According to Haugabrook, the fractures did not heal properly because Smith was unable to find transportation to the specialist he was referred to. Inconsistencies Smith’s lawsuit accuses Wheeler and Henry of falsifying their reports on the incident. Wheeler’s report stated that Henry asked Smith to put his hands behind his back, which the video proves was not the case. The statement from Valdosta police officials also contains inconsistencies with the video footage that paint Smith’s encounter with the officers in a false light. “The responding officer (Wheeler) approached the subject and advised him to place his hands behind his back,” the statement read. “The subject did not and began to resist by pulling his arms forward and tensing his body.” The video shows that while Smith questioned what Wheeler was doing, he did not try to resist or pull away. The city’s statement also stated that officials there are “fully committed to transparency,” though at that time, they released only a portion of the existing body camera footage. The lawsuit argues that neither Henry nor Wheeler had justification for physically restraining Smith because they had not determined whether he had committed a crime or if he had outstanding warrants. At one point in the footage, Wheeler asks Henry whether Walgreens wanted to obtain a criminal trespass warrant against Smith, the lawsuit states. “I don’t know. I had, I hadn’t even asked them,” Henry responds, according to the document. Manahan defended Wheeler’s actions to WALB last month. “He still thinks the subject has felony warrants. When you are dealing with someone with felony warrants, you kinda want to move quick, really for the safety of everyone involved,” Manahan told the news station. Read Antonio Arnelo Smith’s federal lawsuit below.  Wheeler has been on the Valdosta police force for nearly 23 years, the lawsuit states. In that time, he has taken “use of force” courses annually. “Since 2017, Defendant Wheeler has also received training in the Governor’s Initiative – De-Escalation Options for Gaining Compliance,” the document states. Haugabrook is arguing that the Valdosta Police Department routinely receives calls about suspicious people, many of whom have committed no crime. In those situations, officers’ actions are restricted by constitutional rules. “Here, Defendant Wheeler violated those rules whereas Mr. Smith had committed no crime that would justify his arrest. Defendant Henry, the lead investigating officer on the scene was simply checking Mr. Smith’s identification and questioning him to determine if he was the suspicious person complained about at Walgreens,” the lawsuit states. “Even if Mr. Smith had been the suspicious person, the consequences would have been a criminal trespass warning to stay off Walgreens’ premises.” The lawsuit claims illegal seizure, unlawful detention, excessive force, assault and battery by excessive force, false arrest/false imprisonment, negligent hiring and training on the part of the department, negligent and intentional infliction of emotional distress and conspiracy to violate Smith’s rights. Smith also accuses Henry of failure to intervene. “Defendant Henry had a realistic opportunity to prevent Defendant Wheeler from grabbing and slamming Mr. Smith to the ground. It would have been as simple as holding out his hand or saying, ‘Stop,’ the lawsuit states. “Defendant Henry did neither.” The lawsuit does not specify the monetary damages being sought. In the March letter to Valdosta officials, however, Haugabrook presented a settlement demand of $700,000. Haugabrook is seeking more than money for his client, however. According to the AP, the attorney wants to see meaningful change in the Valdosta Police Department. “We will cross the next bridge as it comes and hopefully we get this matter solved in a manner that prevents these sorts of mistakes, this sort of conduct from happening in the future,” the attorney told WALB.
  • Monday evening was a “peaceful” experience for the Georgia National Guardsmen who have been dispatched in response to last weekend’s surge of violence in Atlanta and the ransacking of the Georgia State Patrol’s headquarters, according to their commander. So far, they have not made any arrests and no Guardsmen have been injured.  Riding in Humvees, the troops — who are armed — will be out on duty again Tuesday evening in keeping with the emergency declaration Gov. Brian Kemp issued following the fatal shootings that left four dead in Atlanta, including an 8-year-old girl. Set to expire July 13, Kemp’s order empowers the Guardsmen to apprehend lawbreakers.  Related: Kemp to deploy 1,000 National Guard troops after violent weekend On Monday evening, the Guardsmen stood watch at the state Capitol in downtown Atlanta, the Governor’s Mansion in Buckhead and the recently vandalized Department of Public Safety building in southeast Atlanta. The troops are seeking to free up police for other law enforcement duties, said Maj. Gen. Thomas Carden Jr., Georgia’s adjutant general. Citing security concerns, Carden declined to say precisely how many Guardsmen have been deployed, though Kemp’s order calls for up to 1,000.  “At the end of the day,” Carden said, “we are primarily staffed, trained and equipped to protect our nation – our citizens – against foreign adversaries. It is disappointing to me that once again we are having to use our personnel, equipment and training to protect Americans and their property from other Americans.”  At least 93 people were shot in Atlanta between May 31 and June 27, roughly double the number from the same span a year ago. On Sunday, a crowd of at least 60 busted out the windows of the Georgia State Patrol headquarters, and someone threw a homemade grenade into a supervisor’s office in the building, authorities said.  >>Read MORE on AJC.com.
  • An 80-year-old golfer was accidentally struck by a bullet intended for a groundhog in Lomira, Wisconsin Monday. Law enforcement officials are describing the event as an accidental shooting. When a 50-year-old man was shooting at a groundhog on his property, one of several rounds that he fired hit a tree and then struck the golfer while he was on the course at.The Golf Club at Camelot, according to WITI. The golfer was taken to a nearby hospital and his injuries are not considered life-threatening. The Dodge County Sheriff, Dale Schmidt, urged people to be cautious when using firearms. “When shooting firearms, it is always very important to know your target and beyond. Firearms are capable of shooting long distances and it is always necessary to have a backstop that can sufficiently stop a bullet from traveling beyond that which is desired,” Schmidt told WITI. Police are still investigating the incident.
  • You may be seeing social media posts promoting #BlackOutDay2020, but what is Black Out Day? Here are five things to know. 1. Blackout Day is persuading Black Americans to not spend money today, to show their economic power. If something needs to be purchased, the movement urges spending money at Black-owned businesses, CNN reported. It’s called a “day of solidarity in America where not one Black person in America spends a dollar,” unless it is spent at a Black-owned business, USA Today reported. Nielsen reports that Black Americans spent more than $1 trillion in 2018, according to CNN. 2. The day was promoted by Calvin Martyr, a social media personality/activist, for about two months. 3. Martyr and those taking part are hoping the day helps to end institutional racism that they have said lead to the deaths of Black Americans, CNN reported. It started after the death of Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor, but before the death of George Floyd. 4. Martyr likened to the spending boycott to the 1955 Montgomery bus boycott when the Black community refused to ride buses until they were allowed to sit wherever they wanted. 5. My Black Receipt is a related movement that urges for people to upload receipts of money spent at minority-owned businesses, USA Today reported.
  • The U.S. Small Business Administration and the Treasury Department on Monday released loan-level data on each of the more than 4.9 million loans made under the government’s Paycheck Protection Program. The program was established in March by the CARES Act, aimed at shoring up small businesses struggling amid the coronavirus pandemic. Authorities said the funds were meant to give business owners incentive to keep their employees on payrolls. Data released Monday includes the names of more than 660,000 businesses that received loans of $150,000 or more. A majority of the program’s beneficiaries -- about 80% -- asked for loans under that amount, with most seeking about $100,000, according to officials. >> See the full data released by SBA and the Treasury Department In a statement, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said that the program has helped to support 'more than 51 million jobs and over 80 percent of all small business employees.' Under the program, the government is backing $659 billion in low-interest business loans that will be forgiven if employers use the money on payroll, rent and similar expenses. Companies typically must have fewer than 500 workers to qualify. The Associated Press contributed to this report.
  • Atlanta’s fire chief has opted to self-quarantine pending the results of a COVID-19 test, one day after the city’s mayor announced that she tested positive for the virus.  Randall Slaughter is being tested for the coronavirus “out of an abundance of caution,” Atlanta Fire and Rescue spokesman Sgt. Cortez Stafford confirmed to AJC.com on Tuesday.  “He will also be in quarantine until his results return and will move forward based on those results,” Stafford said.  Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms on Monday announced that she tested positive for the virus.  “COVID-19 has literally hit home,” Bottoms wrote. “I have had NO symptoms and have tested positive.” — Please read more on AJC.com for updates.