WALB Investigates: Police department fired former officer accused in U.S. Capitol breach days after presidential election
EDITOR’S NOTE: This story contains language and imagery that could be deemed offensive, but we felt that it should be included to give you the full context of the story.
PELHAM, Ga. (WALB) - Court documents and personnel records show that a former police officer’s Facebook posts led to him being fired from his job in 2020 and being federally charged in the U.S. Capitol breach in January 2021.
According to federal court documents, Michael Shane Daughtry faces three counts in connection to the breach:
- Entering and remaining in a restricted building or grounds
- Disorderly and disruptive conduct in a restricted building or grounds
- Impeding ingress and egress in a restricted building or grounds and aiding and abetting
WALB wants to make it clear that federal officials do not release mugshots for people charged with federal crimes, which is why we do not have a mugshot for Daughtry.
Court documents showed that Daughtry was arrested in January.
Those court documents detailed Facebook posts that F.B.I. agents said were made on Daughtry’s account, about being involved in the Capitol breach.
One post said, “We just tore down the fence and stormed the Capitol.”
In an affidavit for the criminal complaint, one F.B.I agent wrote that Daughtry “joined and encouraged a crowd of individuals who forcibly entered the U.S. Capitol and impeded, disrupted, and disturbed the orderly conduct of business by the United States House of Representatives and the United States Senate.”
The documents said in the days after the breach, a police officer in Pelham, where Daughtry used to work, saw the posts, called Daughtry and recorded the conversation.
The F.B.I. agent said Daughtry admitted on that phone call that “he was one of the first people to force his way past the barricades surrounding the perimeter.”
The agent said Daughtry claimed, “he went ‘up to the Capitol door’ but ‘had to back off’ when law enforcement officers shot him with rubber bullets.”
Court documents showed Daughtry is currently out on bond under several restrictions, including home detention and not being able to have contact with employees of the Pelham Police Department (PPD), along with his guns being held.
WALB obtained personnel records that show PPD fired Daughtry on November 13, 2020.
Those records showed that complaints came into PPD after officials said Daughtry posted an apparent advertisement for his gun sales business, named “Crazy Coon Armory,” on Facebook right before the presidential election.
“We had a large number of complaints about the name of his business and the implications there that they were racially insensitive,” said Tommy Coleman, Pelham’s city attorney.
Daughtry’s personnel file showed that several people complained to one city councilman, saying the name of the business “was very offensive” to African-Americans.
The councilman told the assistant police chief that that word has “long been used as a racial slur.”
“The name of his business was not the kind of image that the City of Pelham wanted for their police department, and I don’t think any city really would,” Coleman said.
The councilman also told the assistant police chief that people thought Daughtry was “offering to supply weapons and ammunition for a potential civil unrest” about the election results.
The assistant police chief did an internal investigation, the results of which are outlined in Daughtry’s personnel records.
Daughtry told the assistant chief that he took the post down when he found out people thought it was offensive.
According to the assistant chief, Daughtry said he named his business after a nickname for a pet raccoon he used to have.
He said he had photos of himself and the pet on Facebook, one of which was included in the personnel records WALB obtained.
“Notwithstanding what somebody necessarily intends, the important thing in public life is how the public perceives it,” Coleman said.
As for the guns, WALB did find a federal firearm sales license under Daughtry’s name.
Daughtry claimed he “didn’t mean to promote or imply to promote unrest or violence” over the election outcome.
He said the post was about the 2020 democratic presidential and vice presidential nominees’ policy plans to ban certain firearms if elected.
“I don’t think the City of Pelham is in politics,” Coleman explained of the decision to fire Daughtry. “They didn’t think of this as a political post. It had to do with comparing his conduct with the personnel policy and didn’t feel like he complied with it.”
In Daughtry’s termination letter, the police chief wrote that Daughtry violated department policy by not getting permission for secondary employment, his gun business.
Coleman said most police departments have that policy.
The chief also said Daughtry’s “use of the internet and social media to invite citizens to purchase weapons and ammunition in anticipation of civil unrest, along with the use of the racial slur ‘coon,’ is inconsistent with (the department’s) objectives and undermines your ability to be effective as a peace officer as well as the effectiveness of the Pelham Police Department.”
“A police officer has got to command the respect and be trusted by the community,” Coleman said. “If they are not because of their social media posts, or any other activity, then they’re not going to be effective police officers.”
The chief offered Daughtry a hearing to contest his firing, but Coleman said Daughtry did not take the opportunity.
WALB emailed Daughtry’s attorney in an attempt to get his side of the story.
His attorney declined to comment.
WALB accessed Daughtry’s records with the Georgia Peace Officer Standards and Training Council (POST).
Those records show POST began an investigation regarding Daughtry in December, just days after he was fired from PPD.
POST records showed that Daughtry previously worked as a peace officer for the Pelham Police Department from November 2001-July 2005. Personnel records show he transferred to then work with the Camilla Police Department (CPD) where he served as a captain.
According to POST, Daughtry resigned from CPD in lieu of termination in June 2012.
POST records stated that Daughtry resigned in lieu of termination because of unsatisfactory performance and insubordination.
The POST Probable Cause Committee recommended that the POST Council revoke Daughtry’s POST certification.
Daughtry wrote a letter defending himself to the POST council investigator.
WALB has redacted portions of the letter because we were unable to validate some of the claims and to exclude some personal information that is not relevant to the story.
Ultimately, the POST council decided not to revoke his certification.
In its order, the council wrote: “While there may have been sufficient grounds for the employing agency to sanction the Respondent (Daughtry), the evidence presented in this matter is not sufficient to prove a violation to the P.O.S.T. Act, and is therefore DISMISSED.”
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