Clayton Commission sanctions fellow member Franklin in drinking case

The Clayton County Board of Commissioners on Monday voted to strip Commissioner Felicia Franklin of her role as the body’s vice chairwoman.

At a special called meeting, the commission voted unanimously in favor of removing the title as a sanction related to a Sept. 29 incident where Franklin was found prone on the ground outside a bar at Southlake Mall.

Franklin, the fifth member of the five-member board, did not attend the meeting.

The commission’s move comes after weeks of controversy surrounding Franklin’s assertion that someone spiked her drink with the “date rape” drug gamma hydroxybutyrate or GHB while she was out enjoying a night of music in late September at the 404 Sports Bar & Grill at Southlake Mall. GHB is commonly referred to as the “date rape” drug because of its frequent use in sexual assaults.

Franklin made the claim on an Oct. 1 Facebook post in which she said the events that night had shaken her. She called on police to investigate the matter.

“No one should have to go through what I experienced, and I want to thank all of you for your support during this challenging time,” she wrote in the post. “Stay tuned for further details as we work towards a safer environment for all.”

But Morrow authorities said after reviewing footage from several cameras inside the establishment that they did not see any proof that her drinks were tampered with. Instead, they said, Franklin was drinking heavily — consuming parts of five drinks — and a toxicology report showed cannabis in her system.

Clayton County commissioners voted unanimously Monday to sanction commissioner Felicia Franklin.

Credit: Natrice Miller

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Credit: Natrice Miller

An investigation into the incident concluded that Franklin left the restaurant and walked to a nearby bench to wait on a ride home. At some point, she passed out and fell off the bench and was found later in a pool of what was believed to be her own urine.

Video from police body cameras showed that she later became combative with emergency response personnel, who had been dispatched because of concerns she may have suffered a concussion in the fall.

The commission said the investigation received widespread media attention and that members objected to the repeated description of Franklin as vice chairwoman. Franklin, who is in her second term on the board, announced earlier this year that she is running to become chairwoman of the Clayton Commission next year.

In her first remarks about the incident last week, a defiant Franklin said that she would not resign from the board and insisted that she still believes she was drugged.

“I am going to continue to do the work of the people because that is what matters,” she said.

In addition to her removal as vice chairwoman, the commission also took away Franklin’s ability to make board appointments and to make zoning recommendations.

“The board finds that Franklin’s actions and the local news coverage of her actions paints Clayton County, the Board of Commissioners, county employees, citizens and businesses in a negative light,” the commission wrote in the resolution to remove Franklin as vice chairwoman. “The board finds that such actions as vice chair are unbecoming of the position.”