Cupid: police had 'utter disregard for my safety'

Police investigation says officer acted within department policy

Cobb Commissioner Lisa Cupid says police in an undercover vehicle improperly followed her late at night last week — at one point speeding behind her car as if to ram it — and that the incident has left her shaken and angry.

The incident is detailed in a seven-page memo to county leadership. Cupid didn’t realize the car following her that night was an undercover police vehicle until uniformed officers responding to her 911 call met her at a convenience store and escorted her home.

Cupid was never pulled over by the undercover officer. She sped away from him just after he found out the car is registered to the commissioner and was being driven in her neighborhood.

Cupid says in the memo that she believes “this type of provocation is protocol” for the Cobb County Police Department. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution obtained the memo through Georgia’s Open Records Act.

“I believe the officer who followed me had complete and utter disregard for my safety, my well-being and the sanctity of community,” Cupid’s memo says. “That police officer was not there to protect and serve. He was there to harass and intimidate.

“I do not believe for one moment that a Lexus … would be tailed and intimidated by a police officer in East Cobb, West Cobb or North Cobb, Vinings (or) the Cumberland area — especially if the driver was white or (in) a neighborhood of affluence.”

Cupid is the only African American serving on the board of commissioners. Her district includes most of the southern portion of the county, including the Six Flags area near her home.

Cupid is preparing for the bar examination and said she has been studying at a hotel until early morning hours with a friend. She was followed by police on July 14, after a study session ended at 1:30 a.m.

Cobb Public Safety Director Sam Heaton and command staff in the police department investigated the incident. Their 16-page report says an undercover officer was assigned to the area because of an 83-percent increase in car burglaries in the past year, and that the officer began following Cupid as she drove away from the hotel “at a higher speed than others he observed.”

The report also notes that the officer saw Cupid’s vehicle made a turn without using its signal, which made him “suspicious” and also caused him to follow.

Heaton said the officer “acted within departmental policies and guidelines.”

“Based upon my review of all circumstances, I concluded there was never any intent to frighten or intimidate anyone by the officer,” Heaton’s report says. “The incident reflects an unfortunate series of events that occurred over a few minutes that inadvertently frightened Commissioner Cupid, understandably so.

“At the same time, the actions of the officer were initiated based on proactive police work in an effort to deter and reduce crime in the community.”

Heaton’s report also says the unmarked police car sped up on Cupid from behind to get her license plate number and find out how many people were in the vehicle. A field supervisor called off the undercover officer when he found the car is registered to Cupid, and that it was being driven near the commissioner’s home.

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