The Oglethorpe County sheriff who hired a recently fired Athens cop said he knows “he will be a great asset to our county” in a Facebook post.
Sheriff David Gabriel’s post said he has known Taylor Saulters since he was a baby. Saulters, who was fired Saturday from the Athens-Clarke County Police Department for allegedly hitting a fleeing suspect with his patrol car, was hired by Gabriel on Monday.
“I have no reservations about Dep. Saulters serving this community,” Gabriel said later in his post. He then encouraged Oglethorpe County citizens who have concerns to contact him directly.
Gabriel did not respond to a phone message left by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution requesting comment.
Athens police Chief Scott Freeman fired Saulters before an internal investigation into the incident was finished, Channel 2 Action News reported. A separate investigation by the GBI is ongoing.
The Athens-Clarke County Police Department declined to comment to The AJC about Saulters’ new job.
“There’s nothing about this that even smells right,” Saulters’ attorney, Philip Holloway, told Channel 2.
Holloway added that Freeman spoke with Saulters’ father, who is the captain of the investigative division for the department, Channel 2 reported.
“He called his father Captain Saulters in, and they talked about the case,” Holloway told the news station. “The chief said (hitting the suspect with his car) wasn’t intentional, but nevertheless Officer Saulters was going to be fired.”
Holloway called Freeman’s decision a “rush to judgment,” but the Athens Anti-Discrimination Movement released a statement Tuesday praising the termination.
“No one is above the law,” the statement said. “His job was to protect and serve; not to cause undue harm to an individual.”
The suspect he hit, Timmy Patmon, was on probation and had felony warrants out for his arrest. He has been charged with obstruction of an officer, and his bond was set at $1,500.
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