Dunwoody cop fired for media leaks, said police chief took ‘coward’s way out’

Brian Bolden, a Dunwoody police officer, was fired after a public criticism investigation.

Credit: Channel 2 Action News

Credit: Channel 2 Action News

Brian Bolden, a Dunwoody police officer, was fired after a public criticism investigation.

A Dunwoody detention officer was fired after leaking a booking photo of the department’s former spokesman after he was arrested for a DUI.

An investigation found Brian Bolden lied about how he got the photo and misused his position to get it. Bolden calls the entire investigation a “witch hunt” and retaliation for his criticism of police leadership.

“(Dunwoody police Chief) Billy Grogan is the type of chief where he wants to control the narrative,” Bolden told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “If he can’t control the narrative, and if you’re not part of the good old boy network, then you’re out.”

Grogan asked Sandy Springs police to conduct the investigation into Bolden’s behavior, and the police chief fired him Wednesday, according to a termination letter obtained by the AJC. Dunwoody’s spokeswoman declined to comment, since it is a personnel matter.

Bolden told reporters about the Jan. 26 arrest of Sgt. Robert Parsons, who was the police department’s spokesman until he resigned the following day. Parsons, 37, crashed his vehicle into a utility pole and was charged with a DUI by Georgia State Patrol troopers. It was his second DUI arrest since 2018.

The termination letter said Bolden used his position as a prison transport officer to circumvent normal processes to obtain Parsons’ booking photo before he gave it to media outlets. The Sandy Springs police investigator also accused Bolden of lying about how he got the photo, which Bolden denies.

“What did I lie about? I admitted to going to the jail and getting a copy of Parsons’ photo,” Bolden said. “It’s public record. What’s wrong with that?”

In Georgia, booking photos are public record through local sheriff’s offices as long as the requestee pledges not to post it online and demand money for its removal. The investigation said Bolden did not go through the DeKalb County Sheriff’s Office and did not make that pledge when getting Parsons’ photo.

Bolden argued that the department would’ve hidden Parsons’ arrest, saying that’s what happened with his first DUI. The city denied that in a previous statement, saying, “Our intention from the beginning was to be transparent, conveying as much information as the legal process would allow.”

Bolden was also among multiple officers who accused former Lt. Fidel Espinoza of bullying, sexual harassment and soliciting nude photos. Espinoza would resign in 2020, but several lawsuits from alleged victims are still pending.

Bolden said he’s been retaliated against since the incident and ensuing investigation into Espinoza’s actions.

“(Grogan) took the coward’s way out,” Bolden said. “...The witch hunt was always about me. He always wanted me, it was personal to him. And it was personal to him because I got Fidel and Parsons.”

The investigation by Sandy Springs police found Bolden violated five department policies, including misusing his position, violating rules of conduct, lying, improperly disclosing booking photos and improperly obtaining off-duty employment. The investigation did not find that he violated Dunwoody police’s “public criticism” policy.

Bolden, who worked for Dunwoody police since 2013, denied each accusation except for his secondary job as a package handler for FedEx. He said he likely won’t work in law enforcement again, but he said he plans to seek recourse in court through a retaliation lawsuit and a pending discrimination complaint.