FBI agent tells how he learned of Aaron Parrish complaint

The following is a summary of the trial of United States vs. Wiley Griffin et al. We are attempting to be as accurate as possible in reporting the trial, given the restrictions on recording equipment within the courtroom. The article contains statements and claims made in court by attorneys and witnesses during the course of opening statements and testimony. Those statements and claims do not represent the views or opinions of Sowegalive.com or its parent company, Flint Media Inc.

An account of Day 5 (Tuesday, June 2) will be posted Tuesday evening, somewhere between 6 and 7 p.m. Please keep checking sowegalive.com

This part 2 of 2 about Day 4 in the trial of the four Sheriff’s deputies who are facing charges related to an incident that happened at the 2012 Bainbridge Bikefest. Read Part 1 of Day 4 here

Captain Steve Clark, chief investigator with the Grady County Sheriff's Office
Captain Steve Clark, chief investigator with the Grady County Sheriff’s Office

On Monday afternoon, the U.S. attorneys called Captain Steve Clark, a high-ranking officer with the Grady County Sheriff’s Office, to the witness stand.

Prosecutor Risa Berkower asked Captain Clark to confirm that the type of flashlight carried by Grady County deputies. He said each deputy is issued a Streamlight, about 6-7 inches long and one inch in diameter. The Streamlight model Grady SO uses has rechargeable batteries and is made of anodized aluminum.

Wiley Griffin IV was issued a Streamlight when he became a deputy, according to Clark.

Clark said each deputy has to undergo a minimum of one hour training on use of force every year, or they can be taken off active duty.

Grady County has a use of force policy that requires deputies to fill out both a standard incident report and a separate use of force report any time they have to use force such as their fist, a TASER stun weapon or a firearm.

Clark said the other way that deputies can report the use of force is directly to him, or to Grady County Sheriff Harry Young. It’s always required that officers generate documentation of use of force, and Clark said he has conducted use of force reviews in the past.

Berkower asked why officers were always required to fill out use of force forms and incident reports in the event someone is injured.

Clark said the purpose is to try and avoid civil litigation and to document an officer’s account of what happened.

Clark, who said he reviews all incident reports at the Grady County Sheriff’s Office, said he never saw any reports (incident or use of force) filed by Wiley Griffin IV about the incident at Bikefest.

Berkower asked, “Should it have been reported?” and Clark answered yes.

Defense attorney Charlie Cox, who is representing Wiley Griffin IV, asked whether an inventory sheet had been filled out when Griffin IV left Grady County SO in 2013. Clark said he had, and after a copy was presented to him, he acknowledged the inventory sheet didn’t reflect Griffin IV’s flashlight as being turned in.

Clark gave the possible explanation that for inventory purposes, the flashlight was considered part of each deputy’s patrol car, because that was where the flashlight was stored when not in use. The inventory sheet didn’t show the patrol car as being returned.

In response to Cox, Clark also acknowledged that Ricardo Bowdry, Jr., another Grady County Sheriff’s deputy working at Bikefest on the same night as Griffin, had not filed any reports on the incident either.

Steve McDermott

The prosecution next called Steve McDermott, a special agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation. McDermott is based in Valdosta, Ga., and covers 20 cities in Southwest Georgia, where he investigates criminal cases and civil rights cases.

McDermott was assigned to investigate deputies’ use of force to detain Aaron Parrish on Sept. 8, 2012.

McDermott was asked to recall how he became aware of Aaron Parrish’s case. The FBI agent said Frank Green, deputy director of Bainbridge Public Safety, was at the U.S. Attorney’s Office and Green mentioned that he knew of an individual who wanted to talk to the FBI. McDermott said he told Green to have the individual call the FBI office in Valdosta. This was in August 2013.

When McDermott returned to his office, he had a note on his desk regarding Aaron Parrish. McDermott said he did not know Parrish prior to him calling the FBI. McDermott was asked by Berkower whether he knew Chip Nix or Frank Green previously. The FBI agent said he had heard Nix’s name and knew Green from the FBI agent working other cases in Bainbridge and Decatur County.

McDermott said he contacted Wendell Cofer at the Decatur County Sheriff’s Office and asked him to forward all reports related to the incident at Bikefest. Berower presented as evidence an incident report related to Aaron Parrish, as well as a cover sheet and statements from deputies Kines and Umbach.

McDermott said he also interviewed Wade Umbach and asked him about his statement. The FBI agent also received transcripts of testimony from Aaron Parrish’s criminal trial in February 2013.

McDermott interviewed Deputy Croley and Deputy Kines on in Fall 2013 and talked to each deputy individually. McDermott said he recorded each of the interviews.

Berkower handed McDermott some compact discs that he identified as containing the recordings of his interviews with Crole, Umbach and Kines. McDermott said he placed his initials on them as a way of ensuring their accuracy.

However, all four defense attorneys objected to the admission of the compact discs into evidence, citing a belief that the recordings contained on the CDs were not complete.

This objection took place right before court was adjourned for the day, so it wasn’t immediately known if presiding Judge Louis Sands would sustain or overrule the objection.

An account of Day 5 (Tuesday, June 2) will be posted Tuesday evening, somewhere between 6 and 7 p.m. Please keep checking sowegalive.com

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