Decatur Co. sheriff believes deputies will be cleared following indictments

Posted at 11:41 PM, Jul 10, 2014
and last updated 2014-07-11 07:08:48-04

BAINBRIDGE, Ga. (WTXL)--We're hearing from the Decatur County sheriff on his son's federal indictment along with three other law enforcement officers following an arrest at a motorcycle rally in Bainbridge.

Former Grady County deputy Wiley Griffin IV is accused using excessive force when making an arrest at the Bainbridge BikeFest on September 15, 2012.

The indictment says the man was injured, and his civil rights were violated. 

Three others in Decatur County Captain Elizabeth Croley, deputy Christopher Kines, and former deputy Robert Wade Umbach are accused of writing false reports to cover up the assault.

Decatur County Sheriff Wiley Griffin says at the BikeFest there were three fights in less than 10 minutes.

He says the deputies got it under control, keeping people safe. He says they did nothing wrong.

"I know all of these officers," said Sheriff Griffin. "They are good officers and they will be cleared. I am very familiar with the case and it's just something we'll have to go through, but I am 110 percent behind these officers."

The case is being investigated by the FBI.

Here is the full announcement from the U.S. Department of Justice:

Georgia Police Officials and Former Deputy Indicted by Federal Grand Jury on Charges of Excessive Force and Obstruction of Justice

The Department of Justice announced today that a federal grand jury in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Georgia returned indictments charging four law enforcement officers with civil rights violations and obstruction of justice in connection with an incident that occurred at Bainbridge BikeFest in 2012. A seven count indictment was returned charging former Grady County Sheriff’s Deputy Wiley Griffin IV and Decatur County Sheriff’s Office Captain Elizabeth Croley with violating an individual’s civil rights. Additionally, Croley, Decatur County Sheriff’s Deputy Christopher Kines and former Decatur County Sheriff’s Deputy Robert Wade Umbach were charged with obstructive conduct relating to the investigation into the civil rights violation.

The indictment charges that Griffin used excessive force during the arrest of a civilian, A.P., at the Bainbridge BikeFest motorcycle event in Bainbridge, Georgia, on Sept. 15 to 16, 2012, thereby violating A.P.’s civil rights. As a result of the assault, A.P. sustained injuries to his face, including cuts, bleeding, swelling and bruising.

The indictment also charges Croley, Kines and Umbach with writing false reports to cover up the assault. In addition, Kines and Umbach were charged with making misleading statements to the FBI to obstruct the agency’s investigation into the use of force against A.P.

In addition, the indictment charges Croley with violating A.P.’s constitutional right to a fair trial by intentionally withholding material exculpatory evidence from the District Attorney’s office, and, in turn, from A.P.’s criminal defense attorney, during prosecution of A.P. arising from the arrest at BikeFest.

The civil rights charge against Griffin carries a statutory maximum sentence of 10 years in prison. The civil rights charge against Croley carries a statutory maximum sentence of one year in prison. Additionally, Croley, Kines and Umbach face a statutory maximum sentence of 20 years in prison for their falsification of reports, and Umbach and Kines face a statutory maximum sentence of 20 years in prison for making misleading statements to obstruct justice.

This case is being investigated by the FBI and is being prosecuted by Trial Attorneys Christine M. Siscaretti and Risa Berkower of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, with support from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Georgia.

An indictment is a formal accusation of criminal conduct, not evidence of guilt. The defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.