Augusta, GA — Two Richmond County Sheriff's deputies recorded themselves beating a man and breaking department policy to cover it up—yet neither of them were fired. Their disturbing actions were captured on both of their body cams, that is, until they turned them off to hide their crimes.
Deputy Charlie Walker and Deputy Christopher Moores were shaking down a man on his bicycle last October when the brutality and subsequent cover-up was captured on film.
"I’m not going to tell you again, get on the fucking ground!" one deputy yells at the non-violent man who can't seem to comply fast enough with the officers who then began beating him.
“Get on the fucking ground," the cop yells at the man who is apparently confused as to why he is being stopped. As the officers beat the man with their batons and put him in handcuffs, that's when they made sure not to catch any more of their misconduct on film.
"Turn it off," the deputy whispers, letting each other know that they did not want to record what was going to happen next.
The man was then kidnapped by police who had robbed him of his phone and bicycle and he was then dropped off far across town, miles from home with no means of getting back or calling someone for a ride.
WRDW's Kelly Wiley confronted RCSO Chief Patrick Clayton about the incident who stood by his choice not to fire these two cops.
"What’s your reaction to that? That’s obviously unacceptable," Willey asked.
"Yes ma'am. That’s why we have policies, and we did take pretty severe disciplinary action against both individuals," said Clayton.
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According to RCSO's own policy, what the officers did is punishable by severe sanctions and termination. However, they received nothing severe and were certainly not fired despite a captain in the department recommending their termination.
As WDRW reported, violation reports show both deputies were ordered seven days suspension without pay, 12 months’ probation to write an essay and to pay the man back for the bike and phone he lost after they dropped him off miles away from his home.
They had to write an essay, got a vacation, and were forced to repay the man for belongings they took from him and lost—for beating him, kidnapping him, dumping him off far from home, and covering the entire incident up. Sounds fair, right?
When asked if he felt the punishment fit the crime in this instance, the chief was absolutely sure it did.
"Yes absolutely," said Clayton. "I think what the sheriff and colonel looked at were these were two young, inexperienced deputies. We call them all the time to deal with highly volatile, quickly developing situations."
WRDW found out that just in the last two years that the department has worn body cameras, RCSO deputies violated policy 47 times. Not a single cop was fired for it either.
As to why the cops weren't fired, the chief says it is to teach cops to change their behavior. Although they committed a fireable offense, according to the department, the tiny little slap on the wrist likely serves as a deterrent from future criminal behavior.
"It's about changing behavior, and I think what you will find our complaints and incidents like that have gone down and down more, and if we can change a deputy’s behavior without terminating them we don't want to have to do that unless it's intentional," Clayton said.
However, a vacation is hardly motivation to prevent a cop from committing a crime. Arguably, it acts more as an incentive to do so. Beat and rob a man, get a vacation.