Macon Council Approves Government Oversight of Police Internal Investigations

10:31 AM, Mar 20, 2013   |    comments
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The Macon City Council passed an ordinance, 15-0, Tuesday night giving the city government a role in police internal-affairs investigations.

Unless the Mayor vetoes the ordinance, the city's chief administrative officer and the police chief would decide jointly whether an officer will be disciplined. Currently, the police chief has that authority.

If the police chief and the chief administrative officer disagree on a finding, the Mayor would have the final decision.

The ordinance also adds two civilians and two police officers from other departments to the board that reviews police shootings.

The Council approved an amendment requiring the police department to immediately ask the Georgia Bureau of Investigation to take charge of the investigation when an officer is involved in a shooting.

The council got into the issue after Officer Clayton Sutton fatally shot Sammie Davis Jr. outside a supermarket in December.

The amendment was offered by Councilman Henry Gibson, a retired Macon police captain. He has criticized the shooting and the Macon police investigation at the scene. He has also questioned why Sutton was on the force at the time despite having numerous disciplinary matters in his personnel file.

The Council vote comes a week after Bibb District Attorney David Cooke said he would not press criminal charges against Sutton.

After reviewing the findings of a GBI investigation, Cooke declared that Sutton was justified in firing the fatal shots.

He says Sutton was in reasonable fear of his life after a struggle with Davis that left the officer with a gash on his neck.

At Cooke's announcement on March 12, Macon police said their internal investigation of the Davis shooting would be complete in 10 to 14 days. 

The council ordinance takes effect when the Mayor signs it, or in ten days if he has not signed or vetoed it by then. (We reported incorrectly that the ordinance took effect immediately.)

Mayor Robert Reichert's spokesman, Chris Floore, said the Mayor would not be signing the ordinance Tuesday night and he was unsure when the Mayor would make a decision.

Sutton remains on administrative leave pending the outcome of the internal-affairs investigation. 

Police Chief Mike Burns has said Sutton will not return to patrol duty even if he remains on the force. He said publicity about the Davis shooting would make it unsafe for Sutton to return to street duty.

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