Louis Graham, who was named Fulton County's first black police chief in 1991, died Monday after an extended illness, his family confirmed.
Graham, 71, retired from his Fulton post after eight years, but he didn't stay out of uniform for long, joining the DeKalb County Sheriff's Office a year later.
Graham became DeKalb's top cop in 2004 but lost the job two years later after a profanity-laced conversation became public -- the second time in two months he was captured on tape.
The first time, Graham was heard using racially inflammatory language when talking to an officer about his efforts to start a union. The second recording was made, accidentally, by Graham.
Despite the controversy, then-DeKalb CEO Vernon Jones encouraged Graham to remain on the job, saying he feared the chief might be "jumping the gun."
The resignation ended a career that spanned more than four decades. Graham joined the Atlanta Police Department in 1964 at a time when black police officers couldn't arrest white offenders.
He eventually led the APD's homicide squad and, as Fulton's assistant police chief, served on the multi-agency task force formed in the summer of 1980 to investigate the Atlanta Child Murders. Graham was adamant that Wayne Williams, the local talent scout eventually convicted in two of killings, was innocent.
"People ask me often, ‘Did Wayne do it?' And I say, ‘No,' " Graham said in a 1998 interview with "Dateline NBC."
While serving as DeKalb's police chief, Graham reopened four of the "missing and murdered" cases.
"These cases are DeKalb County cases. There has not been any finality to these cases, " Graham told the AJC in 2005.
The investigation was discontinued after Graham's resignation.
Graham was under care at a Riverdale hospice when he died from complications of multiple myeloma.
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