Sheriff: Officers fired after excessive force, cover up

by: Mark Winne Updated:

Sheriff Kem Kimbrough said three officers were fired after trying to cover up the incident.

JONESBORO, Ga. - Channel 2 Action News has learned of new accusations of excessive force inside a local jail after surveillance video caught several officers in the act, and the sheriff tells Channel 2 investigative reporter Mark Winne the cover-up cost three officers their jobs.

Clayton County Sheriff Kem Kimbrough said the video shows officers taking things too far with an inmate.

"Officer (Enrique) St. Louis apparently was provoked by some statement that the inmate made and he came up and took the inmate away from Officer (Herbert) Feemster and forced the inmate to the ground," Kimbrough said.

"Is it clear to you the inmate was not resisting or posing a threat in any way at that point?" Winne asked the sheriff.

"That's absolutely clear from the video," Kimbrough said. "The reporting of it after the fact and the creation of the cover up are certainly things that are intolerable. They speak directly to the integrity of our officers."

Kimbrough said the inmate had been combative in an earlier situation in his cell but settled down. He was not resisting but still spouting off when St. Louis suddenly came up from behind and took him hard to the floor, Kimbrough added.

"Our initial complainant was the inmate's mother," Kimbrough said.

The sheriff said Feemster and Officer Ronnie Wyatt, who were both present but did not use excessive force, and St. Louis were all fired.

Documents suggest five rule violations were sustained against St. Louis, three against Wyatt and two against Feemster.

"Ron told the truth best of his recollection. He accurately related the facts of which he was certain," attorney Keith Martin said.

Martin said Wyatt did not cover anything up and did nothing wrong.

"We're going to file an appeal to the Civil Service Board to protect his rights, try to get his job back," Martin said.

The sheriff says the excessive force by itself might have brought lesser disciplinary action, but the issue is what the officers did or didn't say afterwards.