CHEROKEE COUNTY, Ga.,None - A Cherokee County sheriff’s deputy could face suspension and a pay cut over the search for a missing girl who turned up dead.
Seven-year-old Jorelys Rivera was missing for nearly three days before investigators found her in a Dumpster earlier this month. She was raped, stabbed and beaten by a maintenance worker, according to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.
"I'm very disappointed that I have to stand here and discipline this police officer," said Sheriff Roger Garrison.
The deputy faces a 36 hour suspension and will get a five percent pay cut for one year after a mistake he made with a trainee during the search for Rivera. Authorities said the pair cleared a vacant apartment at the River Edge Apartment complex that turned out to be where Rivera was killed. Neither told anyone about the blood they saw inside, Garrison said.
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The deputy only spoke up when he was questioned by the GBI's Child Abduction Response Team, Channel 2's Aaron Diamant reported.
"Had that CART team been there sooner those questions would have been asked," Garrison said. "This entire case, I feel, in my opinion would have been brought to a conclusion possibly 48 hours earlier."
On Thursday, Canton Mayor Gene Hobgood told Channel 2 Action News he had called for an investigation into the Canton Police Department’s response to Jorelys’ disappearance. Garrison said he was concerned that the head of the lead agency, Canton Police Chief Jeff Lance, wasn't at the scene until the morning after the girl had disappeared.
"The whole first 48 hours that there was possibly an absence of command and control and just a lot of chaos there," Garrison said.
No action was taken against the trainee. Garrison said the deputy has admitted he made a mistake. He won't have to serve the suspension if he completes 12 months of additional training, although the pay cut will remain in effect regardless.
"He's taking it like a man," Garrison said.