APD officer with checkered past faces new investigation

Atlanta Police Sgt. Byron Rainey's personnel record includes several accusations of sexual misconduct.

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Atlanta Police Sgt. Byron Rainey's personnel record includes several accusations of sexual misconduct.

An Atlanta police officer who remained on the force despite multiple allegations of sexual assault has been placed on paid administrative leave following a claim that he allowed his brother to make an illegal arrest on behalf of a private security firm.

The decision by Atlanta Police Chief Erika Shields to launch a new investigation into Sgt. Byron Rainey follows a Channel 2 Action News interview with Elroy Pena, a loss prevention officer at Wal-Mart on Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, who alleges the officer authorized his brother, Kevin Rainey, to carry a gun and wear a badge.

“Well, we thought he was a police officer,” Pena told Channel 2.

The Atlanta Police Department suspended Rainey for four days after his brother was sentenced in August to three years’ probation in Fulton County. At the time, APD was unaware of Pena’s accusation that Byron Rainey approved of his brother’s actions, spokesman Carlos Campos told The AJC.

Although Byron Rainey was ordered to turn in his badge and gun, he remains employed by Atlanta police pending the outcome of the investigation, Campos said.

The veteran officer, hired in 1995, has survived prior recommendations for dismissal by APD’s Office of Professional Standards.

Channel 2, acting on a tip, recently obtained Rainey’s personnel file and uncovered a litany of disturbing allegations.

Rainey first made headlines in 1995 when he was reprimanded for his part in a highly publicized beating of a motorist who had driven through a police roadblock. His troubles didn’t stop there.

In 2009, Rainey, then a supervisor in Zone Four, was accused of sexually assaulting two women in separate incidents just one week apart. OPS investigators recommended his dismissal, but then-Police Chief George Turner overruled them, suspending Rainey for eight days.

“If you look at the history of the Atlanta Police Department, I fired more police officers for (not being truthful) during my tenure than any other police chief in our history,” Turner told Channel 2  Action News. “There had to be a reason I did not sustain. I do not have access to the files to review it.”

The victim in one of those two incidents said Rainey “put his hands in my pants and fondled me and went up to my shirt, under my shirt (and) fondled me.”

“I don’t want him to be able to do it to nobody else,” the victim told Channel 2.

Rainey would be suspended again in 2013 for four days after an APD co-worker accused him of showing her an inappropriate image of a sex act.

Despite those red flags, Rainey remained an officer in good standing until Tuesday. He declined Channel 2's request for comment. 

In a statement, Chief Shields acknowledged Rainey’s disciplinary record is “far from exemplary” but said she “respects her predecessors who handled the files, and trusts that there was appropriate reasoning behind the disciplinary actions that were carried out."

That was Monday. On Tuesday, Rainey was relieved of his officer duties as he awaited the outcome of yet another internal investigation.

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