Tuesday, January 21, 2020

$148,000 settlement in DeKalb County excessive force case

DeKalb County has agreed to pay $148,000 to settle a federal lawsuit that claimed sheriff's deputies used excessive force in July 2013 when they served a warrant over a $1,000 fee in the middle of the night at an Ellenwood home.

After a two-hour executive session that included another matter, DeKalb County commissioners voted on Tuesday to approve the settlement of remaining claims by Donovan Hall and others against Sgt. Dan McGhee and others in return for a dismissal with prejudice of the lawsuit that they filed (15-CV-00428).

Officers went to the Ellenwood home at 1:13 a.m. on July 26, 2013, to serve an arrest warrant on Hall's mother, Natania Griffin, who told WSB-TV that the debt was only 15 days overdue. Hall's sons recorded a 19-minute video of the incident and posted it on YouTube. (The video can be seen at http://bit.ly/37frDwD )

Then-Sheriff Thomas Brown said the behavior of his officers "was totally unacceptable," but he added, "I'm sure the officers were teed off because the family kept them outside for a (half) hour and told them they had the wrong address."

McGhee was demoted as the result of the incident and three deputies were disciplined. At an August 2013 news conference, Brown said he was "appalled by the words of the deputies."