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16 years ago: DeKalb’s sheriff had his political rival murdered

In 2000, blood was shed in a shocking act of political corruption.

Derwin Brown, who’d just defeated Sheriff Sidney Dorsey for DeKalb County’s top law enforcement position, was followed to the driveway of his home. 

Voters had elected Brown largely on his promise to clean up corruption and kickbacks that troubled the office for decades. He was just days away from taking office to begin fulfilling that pledge.

Trouble was, outgoing Sheriff Dorsey was afraid of said investigation. 

He wanted to stop it.

Brown, a veteran of more than 20 years in DeKalb policing, was ambushed when he arrived home from a party on Dec. 15, 2000. He took at least 10 bullets and fell to the ground clutching roses he’d brought for his wife. It was her birthday.

Then DeKalb County Sheriff Thomas Brown applauds the unveiling of Derwin Brown's name on the Dekalb County South Precinct building in April 2001. (AJC file photo)

Brown left behind five children and wife Phyllis, who suspected Dorsey had played a hand in the killing.

She pointed a finger at Dorsey from the witness stand two years later as the disgraced sheriff was on trial for murder, accused of putting up employees to kill Brown.

"You called him the lowest scumbag on Earth," she said. "I beg to differ. That is you. That is you. As you watch yourself in the mirror, you are the lowest scumbag on the Earth."

That day, Dorsey claimed he was innocent even. He was convicted still.

"I know you are going to sentence me severely," he said, looking up at the judge and raising an open palm for emphasis. "But I do not have the blood of Derwin Brown on my hands."

But he confessed in 2007 while serving life.

He remains in Georgia State Prison.

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