Jury finds defendants guilty on four of seven counts
The jury in the case involving three Decatur County Sheriff’s Office deputies and a former Grady County Sheriff’s Office deputy returned a verdict finding the defendants guilty of four of the seven counts in an indictment handed down almost 11 months ago.
Wiley Griffin, IV, was found not guilty for Deprivation of Rights Under the Color of Law. Griffin was alleged to have beaten Aaron Parrish and used unreasonable force at Bikefest 2012 with a flashlight. Griffin, IV, was working for the GCSO at the time of the incident, but is no longer employed there as a deputy.
DCSO captain Liz Croley was found guilty on two counts: Deprivation of Rights Under the Color of Law and False Reporting. The jury’s verdict is that Croley deprived Parrish’s rights to a fair criminal trial for his conduct at Bikefest by writing false reports.
Former DCSO deputy Robert Wade Umbach was found not guilty for False Reports, but found guilty for Tampering With Witness Evidence. Umbach was involved in the altercation with Parrish, but reported false information to FBI special agent Steve McDermott about Griffin, IV’s, involvement with Parrish.
DCSO deputy Christopher Kines was also charged with the same counts as Umbach. He was found not guilty for False Reports but found guilty for Tampering With Witness Evidence for the same reasons as Umbach.
“We are delighted with the result for Wiley Griffin (IV) and sad for the other three deputies,” Griffin, IV’s, attorney Charlie Cox said. “We’ve said at the outset that Wiley had not engaged in any improper conduct, and the jury agreed with us. It’s rewarding in that the jury reached the verdict that I think is obviously the proper verdict. It’s a relief to him and he can move on with his life.”
Parrish and his wife, Carla, expressed their satisfaction with the verdicts. Parrish said he believed 90 percent of justice was served.
“From day one I have been in this,” Parrish said. “It’s surely not about putting somebody in prison or giving somebody a charge they didn’t deserve, but right is right. Somebody has to stand up at some point for justice.”
U.S. District Court Judge W. Louis Sands ordered that Kines, Croley and Umbach turn in their firearms and any passports.
“I am very disappointed with the verdicts,” DCSO Sheriff Wiley Griffin, III, said. Griffin, III, also said Kines, Croley and Umbach are no longer employed at the DCSO.
The court will later hear on appropriate sentencing for the three individuals, Sands said.
“As the jury recognized through its verdict, there are serious consequences when law enforcement officers lie to cover up the misconduct of a fellow officer and when an officer intentionally stacks the deck against an accused person by hiding evidence that could show the person’s innocence,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta of the Civil Rights Division. “When officers engage in this type of outrageous behavior, the Department of Justice stands ready to enforce the law and protect the civil rights of all Americans.”
“This case reflects that the rule of law applies to all and that the FBI will present for prosecution the facts as it finds them,” said Special Agent in Charge J. Britt Johnson of the FBI Atlanta Field Office. “Today’s verdicts conclude an extensive investigation and prosecution that needed to be heard and the FBI is satisfied that it was.”
Defense attorney Kermit Dorough declined to comment. Defense attorneys Tina Hunt and Josh Bell could not be located after court had adjourned.
This story was updated to include quotes from the U.S. Department of Justice.