Georgia sheriff faces charges after bar incident

Walton County Sheriff Joe Chapman (Credit: AJC file)

Walton County Sheriff Joe Chapman (Credit: AJC file)

Walton County Sheriff Joe Chapman faces a court date in Florida and professional scrutiny in Georgia after his involvement in a bar incident, Channel 2 Action News reported.

The incident happened in May 2016 in Carrabelle, Fla., on the Gulf Coast, according to the station. Chapman disclosed the incident in a Facebook post Saturday.

The agency that certifies Georgia peace officers told Channel 2 that investigators are looking into the situation. Under Georgia law, officers are required to self-report any arrests.

Chapman and Maj. Damien Mercer, a Walton County deputy, were charged with battery, which was later changed to disorderly conduct, Channel 2 reported, citing police records.

A Carrabelle officer wrote that surveillance video of the incident, which was over money on a pool table, showed “Mr. Chapman ... shoved Charles (a victim) in the back causing him to fall onto a table ... and that Maj. Damien Mercer struck him (the victim's brother) in the left side of the neck with an open hand.”

“(The other people involved) went outside and returned with a crowbar. The two threatened to beat and shoot me,” Chapman said in the Facebook post.

“I instinctively chased them outside. Local law enforcement was called. The person that I pushed said that if I paid him ($1,000) he wouldn't press charges. I refused and was charged with battery. This was later changed to disorderly conduct and then dismissed.”

Chapman, who is back in the area at his vacation home, and Mercer are due in court Thursday and again Friday for arraignment, according to Channel 2.

In the Facebook post, Chapman said the charges already were dismissed.

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

“I would have brought this to your attention sooner, but I had to let the legal process take its course.”

Walton County Sheriff Joe Chapman claims the 13-month-old disorderly conduct case will be dismissed on Wednesday.