New Sheriff talks discipline in wake of fatal police officer shooting
Many people in Middle Georgia are still searching for answers after a Macon Police Officer shot and killed a reportedly unarmed man in the parking lot of a Kroger Grocery Store two weeks ago.
After the shooting it was discovered the officer, Clayton Sutton. had a disciplinary record that includes 26 complaints over his six-year career on the force. No action was taken by the police department on many of the complaints prompting people to speak out at a rally last week across the street from City Hall.
Newly elected Bibb County Sheriff David Davis talked to WGXA Thursday, about discipline in law enforcement, and why it's so important to have strict policies at any law enforcement agency.
"It shows that we're doing what we're supposed to do to protect the rights of the citizens, and also to make sure that our officers do what they're supposed to do," Davis said.
Of the 26 complaints filed against Sutton, "No Further Action" is listed under the discipline taken column for ten allegations.
"If an officer that has 26 plus reprimands in his folder and he's not getting reprimanded per se, there's something fishy ... I mean what kind of system are they running inside there," said Community Activist and rally organizer Anthony Harris.
Davis says taking action is important every time a substantiated complaint is made, whether it be a written reprimand, a transfer, or termination.
"If you don't follow up on a substantiated claim than it shows the other officers that they can pretty much do whatever they want to do and that there will be no repercussions," Davis said.
Sutton's file also shows several complaints for displaying bullying behavior and having a bad attitude, and it's those types of situation's that Davis says will have a direct influence on how law enforcement officers will be viewed by the community.
"What the deputies do when they encounter the public is a reflection on our office as well as a reflection on the Sheriff, so it's always important for them to realize that they need to treat everyone fairly, they need to treat everyone with courtesy and respect, and when they do get out of line, actions will be taken," Davis said.
Of officer Sutton's 26 complaints, five times he was issued written reprimands. He was verbally counseled six times, and suspended for one day.
Sutton has been placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of an investigation into the shooting by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.