Indicted deputies face trial next week

Published 7:49 pm Friday, May 15, 2015

Four federally indicted Decatur County Sheriff’s Office deputies will be put on trial next week at the U.S. District Court in Albany.

Current DCSO captain Liz Croley, deputy Christopher Hines, former deputy Robert Wade Umbach and former Grady County deputy Wiley Griffin, IV were allegedly involved in beating a Bainbridge resident at BikeFest 2012.

According to the indictments, the four have been charged on seven counts, including the deprivation of rights under the color of law, false reports and tampering with a witness, victim or an informant.

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Decatur County incident reports reveal Croley and Kines broke up a fight late on Sept. 15, 2012, at the BikeFest grounds. During the event, all four indicted individuals were working under the DCSO.

Ronnie Aaron Parrish became involved with the scuffle and was allegedly beaten by Griffin, IV.

Parrish was arrested four days later and charged with obstruction of an officer and attempting to remove a firearm from law enforcement. He was fined $1,000 and sentenced to three years probation.

Griffin, IV and the exact sequence of events during the fight was left out of the incident reports, the indictment claims.

It states Croley “intentionally withheld material, exculpatory evidence from the District Attorney’s Office for the South Georgia Judicial Circuit, thereby depriving (Parrish) of the exculpatory evidence when he was prosecuted and convicted by the District Attorney’s Office.”

Griffin, IV is charged with the deprivation of rights under color of law for willfully depriving Parrish “of the right, secured and protected by the Constitution and laws of the United States, to be free from unreasonable seizures, which includes the right to be free from the unreasonable use of physical force by law enforcement officers,” according to the indictment.

Decatur County Sheriff and Griffin, IV’s father, Wiley Griffin, III, expressed his faith in his officers when indictments were originally handed down in July 2014.

“My officers have not lied to the FBI or any federal authority,” Griffin said. “I am familiar with this case. They did their job and they will be exonerated, no doubt about it.”

The trial is scheduled to begin Thursday, May 21.