This article is Part 12 of an ongoing series investigating the City of Brooklet Police Department.
Due to the nature of the allegations and the fear of retaliation, the names of the victim and her husband have been changed. Because the investigations by the GBI and other agencies are still underway, the name of the officer involved has been withheld as well. All statements provided to AllOnGeorgia were also provided to law enforcement officials at various levels. The statements should be considered the official on-the-record statements made by the parties involved.
All documents provided in this article were provided by the victim and the Bulloch County Sheriff’s Office. None were provided from the City of Brooklet.
Documents provided to AllOnGeorgia by a Brooklet resident indicate that former Chief Doug Meyer and at least one councilman on the Brooklet City Council failed to follow the proper protocol when a woman filed a complaint alleging sexual assault by a Brooklet police officer, referred to henceforth as Officer A. The purported failure was in conjunction with a series of other incidents that went undocumented by the police department and council, statements from parties involved show, including months of harassment and even a theft on private property.
The allegations involve every officer in the Brooklet Police Department, with the exception of now-interim Chief Lee Craft. The complaint detailed below, dated February 11, was received by Councilman Griffith before Officer Baker was allowed to reverse his termination to a resignation, before former Chief Doug Meyer was permitted to change his resignation status, and before Officers Dutton and Rogers were placed on indefinite leave without pay. When Council voted to alter the POST reporting status on Baker and Meyer and when they voted to place Dutton and Rogers on leave, Councilman Griffith was aware of not only the complaint of sexual assault and the ongoing GBI investigation, but also the allegations of harassment and reported theft. At the July 5th council meeting, Councilman Greg Schlierf said he was not aware of any GBI investigation, if there was one.
AllOnGeorgia sat down with the woman, identified as Susan, along with her husband, identified as Joel, to discuss the chain of events that span a 17-month period of time beginning in March 2017. AllOnGeorgia obtained limited documentation for publication, but reviewed a considerable amount of unpublishable paperwork, much of which will be released at a later date due to the fact that Susan and Joel have retained legal counsel and are in the process of seeking legal recourse.
SEXUAL ASSAULT ALLEGATIONS
Susan alleges that she was sexually assaulted by Officer A at East Georgia Regional Medical Center on March 26, 2017. Susan had been transported to the hospital via EMS due to an incident that occured at the family home. According to Joel, Officer Rogers (formerly Hatton) was the responding officer for the incident when an off-duty officer, Officer A, showed up to their home in plainclothes (tshirt, shorts, and flip flops) entered their home, and began collecting evidence. Joel says the the officer never identified himself and Joel had to demand Rogers explain who he was. Rogers simply stated Officer A was a supervisor.
Susan alleges that the same police officer (Officer A) who was at the home in plain clothes was also in her hospital room on two occasions on the evening of the incident, but had changed into uniform. Susan alleges that she was in the hospital room alone with Officer A when the sexual assault occurred.
The incident reports officially filed by Rogers and Officer A are conflicting and depict two very different events that occurred at the home of Susan and Joel on March 26. Joel says the statement he made in writing for the Brooklet police department is absent from police department records. He and Susan, with the help of an attorney, asked to review any and all documents related to the incident that occurred at their home and his statement is not included in the files.
Though it was not immediate, a police report in regards to the sexual assault was filed by Susan with the Statesboro Police Department (because the incident took place at East Georgia Regional Medical Center in the city limits of Statesboro) and SPD reportedly turned the case over to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI). Susan and Joel say they provided statements and evidence to the GBI. The official statements from BPD are also in the possession of another law enforcement agency.
Susan and Joel allege that after the sexual assault incident, Officer A, over the course of several months, would pass by their home and stake out in front of their mailbox and yard, sometimes as often as nine times in three hours. Following their reports to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and at the direction of legal counsel, Susan and Joel installed a home security system as well as trail cameras around the perimeter of their home. In addition to the dozens of cell phone photos showing the officer camped out in front of the home, the trail cameras – which offer timestamps and dates – yielded at least 200 photos in a one-month period, which were provided to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, Susan says. AllOnGeorgia reviewed many of the photos taken by the trail camera and confirmed the consecutive timestamps.*
[*Due to the fact that the photos reveal the location of Susan and Joel’s residence, they have not been published.]
AllOnGeorgia spoke with the neighbor referenced in the complaints filed by Joel and Susan and she corroborated the story, including the repeated drive-bys and stake outs as outlined in the official complaints filed with the City of Brooklet.
As of July 2018, Susan and Joel say the harassment by Officer A still continues on a near-daily basis. More recently, drive bys of the home have occurred by Officer B, as well.
REPORTS OF THEFT BY OFFICERS
Susan and Joel reported in two separate complaints that two Brooklet officers were seen trying to remove a trail camera located in the tree on Susan and Joel’s property. The attempt to remove a camera, which was chained to the tree, was unsuccessful but the memory card for the camera was taken.
Susan and Joel requested that then-Chief Doug Meyer come to their residence so they could report the theft of the memory card by the officers. Meyer did not make a report, but Joel contacted the Bulloch County Sheriff’s Office to file a report on another stolen camera.BSCO incident report 12318 (1)
Over time, Susan and Joel had a total of two trail cameras and three SD memory cards stolen from their property.
According to the official statement filed with the Brooklet PD and provided to AllOnGeorgia by Susan and Joel, Officer C of the Brooklet PD returned to the residence of Susan and Joel months after the theft, wearing a body camera, and apologized for removing the memory card from their property. Officer C said the instruction for C and Officer B to remove the memory card was made by Officer A.
That body camera footage is in the possession of the higher ranking law enforcement officials, but AllOnGeorgia did hear the audio of the body camera recording.
AllOnGeorgia obtained a copy of the complaint filed on February 11, 2018, which was filed by Joel, and details the alleged assault, months of harassment by Officer A, and the reported theft made known to former Chief Doug Meyer. The complaint was filed at the police department in an envelope addressed to Councilman Bill Griffith. Joel says Police Clerk Mary Renteria took the complaint. According to the official statement made by Joel, Renteria said the complaint would be placed in the box of Councilman Griffith. Joel and Susan say Councilman Griffith called them four days after the complaint was filed and said he could not speak with them about the matter.
Susan and Joel say no action was taken by the Brooklet PD and no incident reports were ever filed or provided to them. If any such documents pertaining to an internal investigation conducted by Meyer ever existed, they are no longer available at City Hall. No statements on the assault, the harassment, the theft, or the complaints were made officially as part of an investigation within the Brooklet PD until Brian Mundy was interim chief.
You can read the entire complaint filed on February 11, 2018 below.Brooklet Complaint -21118 (1)
Susan and Joel filed another complaint under the administration of former interim chief Brian Mundy. Though the complaint dated May 16, 2018 was at City Hall at the time of the Open Records Request filed by AllOnGeorgia, it was not subject to the ORR because it was part of an ongoing investigation, one that was purportedly initiated by Mundy. The second complaint, below, was provided by Joel and Susan.Brooklet Complaint - 51618 (2)
When asked why Susan wanted to come forward to the media with her story, she said she wanted anyone else who may be a victim to know that it’s okay to come forward as well and not live in fear. She said the assault and harassment have altered both her and Joel’s lives. Both are veterans who told AllOnGeorgia in an interview that they simply wanted action to be taken and they felt like those at city hall dropped the ball on the process of justice. She has contacted State Representative Jan Tankersley, State Senator Jack Hill, and Congressman Rick Allen.
Brian Mundy was asked for comment, but declined.
AllOnGeorgia spoke with Councilman Bill Griffith on Monday and he said he never received any complaints on the Brooklet Police Department, other than the one with Cindy Lee, but phone records from Susan and Joel show otherwise. Susan’s phone bill from January 2018 shows three phone conversations on the cell phone of Councilman Griffith for a total of 14 minutes. The complaint was formally filed on the 11th of February and on February 15th, Joel spoke with Councilman Griffith twice for a total of five minutes, phone records show.
Additionally, in saying that he never received any complaints other than that of Cindy Lee, Councilman Griffith failed to recall the complaint he received from the Pastor in Part 3 of the AllOnGeorgia series, which is on video.
The audio of the phone call with Councilman Griffith from Monday is below.
Councilman Griffith was notified of the reported theft by officers, assault, and investigation with GBI by way of a formal complaint long after the GBI was notified of the sexual assault by Statesboro Police. Councilman Greg Schlierf told a packed council room on July 5th that he was not aware of any ongoing GBI investigations or any reason that Meyer had contacted the agency. Schlierf asked Councilman Griffith to get in touch with the GBI.
But the GBI only investigated the sexual assault, not the theft. Councilman Schlierf told AllOnGeorgia after a special-called meeting on June 28th that the city contacted POST about the ongoing internal investigation, which is related to the theft and personnel policy violations by Officers B and C, but that POST said the organization could not investigate the matter and it was turned over to another agency. The only other agency with jurisdiction to do so is the FBI.