Fulton sheriff says he’s ready for possible Trump indictment

‘It doesn’t matter your status,’ Labat says of booking procedures
Fulton County Sheriff Patrick “Pat” Labat said his agency is ready should former President Donald Trump be indicted on criminal charges.  (Katelyn Myrick/katelyn.myrick@ajc.com)

Credit: Katelyn Myrick/AJC

Credit: Katelyn Myrick/AJC

Fulton County Sheriff Patrick “Pat” Labat said his agency is ready should former President Donald Trump be indicted on criminal charges. (Katelyn Myrick/katelyn.myrick@ajc.com)

Fulton County Sheriff Patrick Labat said his office is ready should former President Donald Trump be indicted over his efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election in Georgia.

Speaking to reporters Tuesday afternoon at the Fulton Government Center, Labat said he sent deputies to Trump’s court proceedings in both New York and Miami to brace for what could happen in downtown Atlanta in the coming weeks.

The sheriff also said that if the former president is charged, he’d likely be booked and photographed just like any other detainee, a process that typically happens at the Rice Street jail. But no president has ever been indicted in Atlanta, and no specific plans for that prospect have been detailed.

“It doesn’t matter your status. We have a mugshot ready for you,” Labat said, telling a room full of journalists that “if an indictment came today, we would be ready.”

“Unless someone tells me differently, we are following our normal practices,” he said.

Small orange barricades surround around the Fulton County Courthouse on Monday in Atlanta, the first visible sign of increased security measures ahead of the possible indictment of former President Donald Trump.

Credit: Michael Blackshire

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Credit: Michael Blackshire

Last week, orange barricades were placed around the Fulton County Courthouse, the first visible sign of extra security ahead of the expected charging decision in the Trump probe. Labat said deputies are working with local law enforcement and federal agencies to prepare for possible demonstrations near the courthouse.

The goal, he said, is to have all normal services open and operational, while providing a safe envioronment “for those we actually service.”

In recent weeks, the sheriff said his office has investigated dozens of threats against himself, Fulton District Attorney Fani Willis and unnamed judges as possible indictments loom.

“The threats have been many,” Labat said. “They started via email, via text messages, via personal phone calls ... When you make a threat, when you become a keyboard bully, it’s our goal to really come and hold you accountable.”

Asked whether road closures can be expected if and when the indictments are handed down, Labat said his team meets daily to discuss security plans but did not offer further details. He instead directed citizens to stay informed via the Fulton County Sheriff’s Office mobile app.

“We will have as much lead time as is possibly available to us, and ultimately we will respond accordingly,” he said.

The sheriff declined to get into specifics about the number of deputies assigned to the security detail, but did say, “we look forward to the opportunity to show the world that we are ready.”

Willis has been investigating efforts by Trump and his allies to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election in Georgia. That includes the former president’s phone call to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger in which he urged the fellow Republican to “find” the 11,780 votes needed to win Georgia.

A special grand jury met for nearly eight months between May 2022 and January 2023, hearing testimony from about 75 witnesses and collecting evidence for Willis. That investigative body did not have the power to issue indictments.

In February, Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney released a redacted portion of the special grand jury’s final report. It excluded the list of who they believed should be charged with various state crimes.

The redacted version of the report did include a few notable disclosures, however, including that jurors were in unanimous agreement that there was no evidence of widespread fraud in the state’s 2020 elections. It also stated that a majority of jurors had recommended that prosecutors pursue perjury charges against at least one witness they believe lied under oath in their testimony.