Still reeling from embarrassing video of now-former officers using a coin-toss app to determine a woman’s arrest, new body camera footage shows another Roswell police officer leave a 13-year-old boy in a squad car on a bitterly cold January night and taunt him.
The unidentified teen was stopped shortly after midnight Jan. 2 when a concerned officer, identified by police as C. Dickerson, saw the boy in a golf cart on Alpharetta Highway. On a night when temperatures were in the 20s and 30s, all he had on was a black hoodie, sweatpants and black running shoes. His sleeves were soaked and frozen, according to a police report obtained by AJC.com.
Worry grew to frustration when the teen refused to answer questions and gave police different accounts of why he was in the golf cart, where he lived and where they could find his mother. Six minutes into the video, police detain him, place him in handcuffs, search him and put him in the back of Dickerson’s patrol car.
From the back seat of the car, the boy is heard saying “I don’t want to go to jail,” “I can’t feel my wrists,” and “I just want to go home.”
Roughly 40 minutes into the video, Sgt. Daniel Elzey arrives on the scene to question the teen. When the teen doesn’t give straight answers, Elzey tells Dickerson to leave the child in the back of the police car.
“He won’t say anything if he’s sitting there in the back seat and it’s warm,” Sgt. Daniel Elzey is heard saying in footage of the roughly 90-minute ordeal. “So, he can sit over there and be cold.”
The exchange between Elzey and Dickerson continues.
“That's why I rolled your windows down,” he tells Dickerson. “It's fine. Give him a few minutes to think about it. Let him get a little chilly. Maybe that’ll help.”
During a second search, when the teen tells police he “feels violated,” an officer says he doesn’t care and feels “violated that you lied to us.”
Police eventually got in touch with the boy’s mother and released him to her. In the police report, authorities describe the boy as a troublesome teen who constantly frustrates his mother and his two older brothers and has been “suspended several times.”
There is no mention in the report of the officers intentionally leaving the boy in the car to freeze.
Elzey was placed on paid administrative leave this month, more than six months after the incident. He will remain on leave while the department’s Office of Professional Standards continues its investigation.
Recently, there have been a string of investigations opened across metro Atlanta after videos of arrests were made public.
Officials placed Atlanta police 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 in a separate incident 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 that officer on administrative leave.
Also on Thursday, Roswell police fired two officers who were seen on body camera footage using the coin-flip app to determine a woman’s arrest during an April traffic stop. Courtney Brown and Kristee Wilson were terminated following an internal investigation.
Mayor Lori Henry called Brown and Wilson’s behavior “inexcusable” and “unprofessional.”
The incidents in Roswell, which city administrator Gary Palmer calls “symptoms of bigger issues,” have prompted officials to take a transparent and preventative approach in addressing 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,” Palmer said in a Facebook post on the city’s page.
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.
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