Decatur County 'blindsided' by deputies verdict - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Decatur County 'blindsided' by deputies verdict

county commission vice chairman Pete Stephens county commission vice chairman Pete Stephens
Decatur Co. Sheriff Wiley Griffin Decatur Co. Sheriff Wiley Griffin
BAINBRIDGE, GA (WALB) - Three Decatur County Sheriff's deputies are no longer employed, following yesterday's federal court verdict.

A federal jury issued guilty verdicts for the deputies in a trial of excessive force during a 2012 arrest of Aaron Parrish-- who claimed deputies had beaten him.

Blindsided. That's how county commission vice chairman Pete Stephens describes the feeling after hearing a federal jury found Deputies Elizabeth Croley, Chris Kines, and Wade Umbach guilty during a two-week long excessive force trial.

We were not expecting a long trial, no," said Stephens. "We thought it would be short and sweet and they'd be acquitted. It would be done. That's what we were led to believe."

But the trial was anything but short and sweet, and now this year's board of commissioners must abide by a resolution compiled in July of 2014--- saying the county will cover the legal expenses of these three deputies.

"We've had other issues we've had to address, and this was one issue we weren't expecting," said Stephens.

Sheriff Wiley Griffin explained the status of the deputies' careers.

"Deputy Kines, Deputy Umbach, Deputy Croley are no longer employed at the Decatur County Sheriff's Office."

Sheriff Griffin says he's disappointed by the verdicts, with Croley found guilty of violating the rights of Aaron Parrish, and Kines and Umbach found guilty of tampering with a witness.

"We're all in the dark right now. We've got to regroup, rethink, and get started," said Stephens.

Stephens said the county commissioners will meet in two weeks to determine the total amount of legal fees and how they plan to pay for it.

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