The Brooklet City Council publicly apologized to two citizens Thursday night, bringing an end to a dispute over a handful of actions by the previous police department administration that have lingered for more than a year and landed the City in federal court.
The apology is part of a mediation and settlement agreement reached in federal court in July. Austin Donaldson and Cindy Lee were both present and received apologies during the city council meeting Thursday where Mayor William Hendrix presented the prepared apology on behalf of council members. Council members Greg Schlierf, Bill Griffith, and Jim Stanoff were present, with Randy Newman absent due to illness and one vacant seat due to the resignation of Russell Davis.
Hendrix told the room that the letter was from him and the entire Council with Thursday’s date. He said no member of Council would be commenting on the matter and citizens would not be permitted to speak on the letter of apology.
In the apology, Hendrix said the behavior was “unacceptable” and that “no one should have to experience that.” “The City is still disappointed in the conduct of the former employees,” he continued, specifically naming Chief Lawrence Norville Douglas Meyer III, Sgt. John Baker, and Officer Charles Dutton.
“The City remains disappointed and has taken steps to ensure that behavior does not occur going forward. The City sincerely apologizes to Mrs. Lee and Mr. Donaldson…and rejects and condemns the harsh and vulgar behavior by former employees,” Hendrix concluded.
Their stories were published on AllOnGeorgia in 2018 after a video of roadside incident involving Cindy Lee went viral on Facebook, prompted the expulsion of Lee from City Hall when she tried to file a complaint, and led to the resignation of then-Brooklet Police Chief Lawrence Norville Douglas Meyer III. The publicity of the video and the resignation prompted a number of other citizens to come forward about incidents involving the Brooklet Police Department, five of whom filed lawsuits, and shed light on the lack of oversight of the department by the Council as a whole.
Cindy Lee’s story is available here.
Austin Donaldson’s story is available here.
The three remaining lawsuits were not able to be settled through mediation in July and are still pending in federal court.