Charges dropped against Georgia sheriff

Joe Chapman (Credit: AJC file)

Joe Chapman (Credit: AJC file)

Charges have been dropped against Walton County Sheriff Joe Chapman and one of his officers that arose from a bar incident last year in Florida, court records show.

Battery charges, which were later reduced to disorderly conduct charges, were filed in Franklin County, Fla., in 2016 against Chapman and Maj. Damien Mercer after an incident involving money on a pool table, according to multiple reports.

The charges were dismissed Wednesday after officials in Florida certified that Chapman and Mercer completed a “deferred prosecution agreement,” according to court records.

Chapman completed the agreement by paying a $500 fine, not breaking the law in the past six months and having no contact with victim Charles Gray, Channel 2 Action News reported.

A Carrabelle, Fla., officer wrote that surveillance video of the incident showed “Mr. Chapman ... shoved Charles (Gray) in the back causing him to fall onto a table ... and that Maj. Damien Mercer struck (Gray’s twin brother, William) in the left side of the neck with an open hand.”

Chapman also gave his version of events Saturday on Facebook.

“I hate that this happened and I'm embarrassed that it happened,” Chapman said in the post. “With that being said, I can't say that I would have handled the situation any different.”

Chapman also faces scrutiny from the agency that certifies peace officers in Georgia, according to Channel 2. Under Georgia law, officers are required to self-report any arrests.

Channel 2 spoke with Charles Gray, who said he is upset with the outcome and would like the sheriff to apologize. The news station also reported that William Gray is in jail in the Tallahassee area on attempted murder charges in an unrelated case.

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