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Crime & Law
Ex-Athens cop files lawsuit
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Ex-Athens cop files lawsuit

Athens-Clarke County police fired Taylor Saulters back in June after dash cam video showed him hit a suspect wanted on felony charges.

Ex-Athens cop files lawsuit

A rookie policeman ousted from the force after he used his squad car to stop a man from getting away is filing suit against his former boss.

Robert Taylor Saulters is seeking a jury trial and damages as he sues the Athens-Clarke County former police chief, government, and others.

"Former Chief [R. Scott] Freeman and Athens-Clarke County failed to their job, and in the course of doing that, they sacrificed Mr. Saulters' reputation at the altar of political expediency," says Saulters attorney, Phil Holloway, who filed the lawsuit Thursday. 

Saulters was one of two officers trying to arrest Timmy Patmon on a probation violation for non-violent drug possession offenses on June 1, 2018. As Patmon ran down the street, Saulters used his patrol car to try to block Patmon; the car ultimately ran into Patmon and knocked him down. 

Body-cam video shows the chase and its aftermath, when Patmon was then handcuffed while lying on the ground. 

The Prosecuting Attorneys’ Council of Georgia use-of-force investigation into the incident determined Patmon changed direction and ran into the path of the patrol car after a series of back-and-forth movements as he tried to duck police. 

"The end result of this cat and mouse pursuit was a collision between Patmon and Saulters' patrol car which occurred on the front quarter panel of the passenger side of the car," wrote PACG's executive director Peter Skandalakis. "Patmon suffered minor scrapes and the investigating agent found no damage to the patrol car. Based on these factors, Officer Saulters acted within the scope of his duties. His Use of Force in this case was reasonable and, therefore, further investigation and/or criminal prosecution is not warranted." 

Saulters had graduated from the police academy less than a year before the incident, and was fired within two days of it. He was hired a day later by another law enforcement agency, Oglethorpe County's sheriff's office. 

Holloway responded to a question about whether Saulters' reputation really suffered, since he had a new job offer within hours of his firing. 

"The former chief and the police department effectively accused him of committing a crime. By definition, they have defamed him. By definition, they have harmed his reputation," says Holloway. [They] owed it to Taylor Saulters to do a thorough investigation before they announced to the whole world--wrongly, I might add--that he intentionally ran over somebody." 

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