Two Roswell police officers were fired Thursday morning, weeks after video surfaced of them using a coin-flip app to determine an arrest, Roswell city officials confirmed to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Courtney Brown and Kristee Wilson were fired following an internal investigation, Roswell city spokeswoman Julie Brechbill told The AJC in an email. The two officers were previously placed on administrative leave after video of the April traffic stop surfaced online.
The officers were responding to a reckless-driving call when they used the app to determine if a woman would be arrested. Though the app landed on tails, indicating she’d be released, the officers decided to arrest her anyway.
Roswell police Chief Rusty Grant said he learned of the incident just before the July 4 holiday.
“This behavior is not indicative of the hard-working officers of the Roswell Police Department,” Grant said in a previous statement. “I have much higher expectations of our police officers, and I am appalled that any law enforcement officer would trivialize the decision-making process of something as important as the arrest of a person.”
According to a police report, Brown pulled over Sarah Webb for speeding in her black Mercury Sable near East Crossville and Crabapple roads. Webb explained she was running late for her job at a hair salon in Duluth.
In the body camera video, Webb sobs as Brown berates her for speeding on the wet road and “risk(ing) people’s lives.”
Brown takes Webb’s license, but when she discovers her radar gun wasn’t working and is unable to perform a check of the license, she calls for backup, the video shows. She later consults with Wilson, who is heard off-camera saying “‘a’ for heads and ‘r’ for tails,” and using the coin-toss app.
The coin lands on tails for release, Brown confirmed, but Webb was still arrested.
Roswell Mayor Lori Henry called the former officers’ behavior “inexcusable” and “unprofessional.”
“Like you, I am shocked and offended by their actions,” Henry said in statement posted on her Facebook page when the arrest video surfaced online. “I find the behavior of these two officers inexcusable and unprofessional. This type of behavior is not and should not be reflective of our police officers in Roswell who protect and serve our community every day.”
Officials have not said how long the women were employed by the department, which is also investigating a controversial incident involving a 13-year-old boy.
According to media reports, body camera video from January shows a Roswell police sergeant left the boy, who was wet, in the back of a squad car in freezing temperatures after arresting him. The police report says the officer was responding to a suspicious-activity call on Alpharetta Highway.
“Sergeant (Daniel) Elzey is on administrative leave pending the completion of the investigation,” Grant said in a statement to The AJC. “Once the investigation is complete, I will review the investigation and determine what action is appropriate.”
The report says the boy was released to his mother's custody and not charged.
The AJC has contacted the Roswell police department regarding the video footage. The Office of Professional Standards is also investigating.
“It is clear to me, the mayor and council and the chief of police that what you are seeing are symptoms of bigger issues — issues that we need to clearly identify and deliberately address as expeditiously as possible,” Roswell city administrator Gary Palmer said in a Facebook post on the city’s page.
While the department plans to investigate the more recent incident “from all angles,” Palmer is taking a transparent and preventive approach to the department’s issues.
“I have authorized the issuance of a national call for proposals from qualified, independent firms to come to Roswell and scrutinize every aspect of our police operations, identify the issues, and make hard recommendations on solutions through a formal final report,” he said in the post.
Palmer expects the report to be completed in three to six months. Roswell police will also conduct an internal investigation to make “any necessary immediate changes.” Palmer authorized city staff to create a “single clearinghouse webpage,” where people can track developments on internal investigations as they progress.
“I am stunned by the lack of professionalism and compassion displayed by some of our officers,” Palmer said. “(Grant, Henry and I) are committed to ensuring that all of our officers understand and embody the qualities of professionalism and compassion as they perform their duties. Those who do not share these values and meet these community standards should be, and will be, removed from service.”
Roswell is not the only local police department facing scrutiny after a video of an arrest was made public.
Two Atlanta police officers have been placed on administrative leave as the department investigates separate incidents.
Officials placed Sgt. Dominique Pattillo on leave last week after a three-minute video surfaced on social media of him trading punches with Harold Barnwell during a July 9 drug arrest in southwest Atlanta. Barnwell is seen in the video resisting arrest before he is punched by Pattillo, who also pushes Barnwell’s mother, Jennifer, when she interferes.
Harold and Jennifer Barnwell face obstruction charges. Harold Barnwell also faces a marijuana possession charge.
On Thursday, Atlanta police released body camera footage that shows an officer push Antonio Harris before another officer forces him against a brick wall and body-slams him. Harris, 29, was one of four people arrested on a charge of pedestrian in the roadway.
He was also charged with physical obstruction in the July 14 arrest, something his lawyer Gerald Griggs disputes, calling the officer’s actions “excessive force.”
Atlanta police placed the officer on administrative leave.
— Staff writer Chelsea Prince contributed to this article.
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