The documents reviewed by the AJC have been turned over to prosecutors in response to federal subpoenas. Those documents include emails; receipts from gun distributors; federal forms exempting the purchases from sales taxes; and gun sign-out sheets, showing that Beard was issued police department weapons on at least three occasions.
The way the Glock was purchased may have circumvented federally mandated background checks, said Matthew Kilgo, a Georgia attorney and firearms law expert.
“There is something wrong with how all this played out,” Kilgo said.
A police spokesman declined to comment, except to say that Police Chief Erika Shields amended the department’s procedures to prevent a similar incidents from happening in the future.
Former Police Chief George Turner, who oversaw the department at the time, told the AJC that he would have never allowed a pistol to be issued to Beard. The authority to issue weapons resides in the department’s armory, and Turner said and it looks as if the purchase bypassed normal protocols.
“I had absolutely no idea that took place,” Turner said.
Beard’s lawyer, Scott Grubman, said the documents obtained by the AJC “make abundantly clear, Mr. Beard was assigned a weapon by the Atlanta Police Department in connection with his official duties as CFO.”
Grubman’s statement did not address why the city’s chief financial officer would need a police-issued semi-automatic pistol.
“Somebody’s got some explaining to do,” said Richard Hyde, a former Atlanta police officer and Chief Investigator for the Balch & Bingham law firm who held similar positions investigator for two attorneys general. “I would not want to be that person.”
Beard issued two other police department Glocks
Six months after Beard was issued the Glock 43, with a magazine that holds six rounds and is considered an ideal weapon to carry concealed, Beard and an officer with the Executive Protection Unit began to shop for a larger version.
That model, a Glock 19, has a magazine that holds 15 rounds.
“Officer Mike Flisser, included in this email, is the primary contact for this purchase for the APD Executive Protection Detail,” Beard wrote on June 1, 2016, to a gun salesperson at Smyrna Police Distributors. One day later, Beard told the same salesperson that he would use his city issued credit card to pay for nine handguns.
Beard then wrote the same salesperson on police department letterhead with Chief Turner’s name, stating that the weapons were for the use of the Atlanta Police Department.
A sign-out sheet shows that Beard was issued one of the weapons on June 8, 2016.
According to a packing slip sent to the attention of Flisser, another batch of Glock 43s were shipped to City Hall in January 2017. One of those was also issued to Beard.
A federal subpoena issued in June sought records associated with the Glocks, and two machine guns that Beard purchased with city money.
According to a police report, Beard apparently abandoned the AR-15 style assault rifles with the Mayor’s Executive Protection Unit shortly before he left city employment in May 2018.
The report refers to the machine guns as belonging to Beard, and other documentation obtained by the AJC shows the federally-restricted, fully-automatic rifles were purchased tax-free from a distributor with city funds under the guise that they were for the police department.
On Thursday, Atlanta's Board of Ethics and Independent Compliance ordered Beard to pay a $18,700 fine and $84,322 in restitution for improper purchases made with his city-issued credit card.
Beard used his card to purchase “tactical gear,” specifically a red dot scope from G.T. Distributors for $735 in May 2016. Information about the scope purchase has been turned over to federal investigators.
The police department declined to make Jones or Shields available for interviews, citing the sensitivity of the federal investigation.
Campos told the AJC that the Shields amended the department’s procedures upon learning that the department had issued weapons to someone who wasn’t an officer, but declined to identify the specific changes to which he referred.
One change is that the department’s Firing Range Supervisor, or range staff under the supervisor’s direction, are solely “responsible for the procuring of all firearm(s), pistols, patrol rifles and shotguns, for issuance to APD personnel.”
Hyde said the change wouldn’t necessarily prevent the city’s chief finance officer from purchasing guns in the future.
Beard returned one Glock in September 2018, another in January 2019. It’s unclear when he returned the third. The return date next to that weapon simply says May 1.