CLAYTON COUNTY, Ga. — A Clayton County Police officer is off the force after Channel 2 Action News played a recording for the police chief, who said the shakedown it depicts turns his stomach.
A husband and wife said they secretly recorded the officer, and Channel 2 Investigative Reporter Mark Winne obtained the recording.
Mike and Michelle Pierce never thought they’d need to record a police officer. They’ve had little experience with law enforcement. They’re grandparents, and together they run a thrift and salvage business in Griffin.
But before their ordeal ended, they’d get a voice identified as that of Officer Grant Kidd on audio saying, “You pay a thousand dollars up front and then the rest of it you pay after it go [sic] away.”
The bizarre story started when the Pierces decided to buy, at auction, a Toyota Corolla that had been locked up in a Clayton County storage unit where somebody stopped paying the bill.
The Corolla was a good deal, $1,700. But Mike Pierce said he’d found good deals this way before.
“I've bought dump trucks for $2,000 doing the same thing,” Pierce said.
But it turns out the Toyota was a stolen vehicle.
The Pierces said they didn’t know until after they paid for the car and their tow truck driver checked out the car’s vehicle identification number. They said they immediately contacted the Clayton County Police about it and handed the car over.
Three days later, the police mistakenly released it back to them. When a detective told them that was a mistake, the Pierces cooperated as police impounded the car again.
But that was nothing compared to what happened next.
“They arrested us in our store in the middle of the day,” said Michael Pierce.
“We didn't know why. They just threw the cuffs on me and put me in the back of the car,” Michelle Pierce cried as she told Winne. “That was the worst thing.”
Then their story took another strange twist.
As the Pierces faced theft charges for a crime they didn’t commit, they learned a police officer, Grant Kidd, wanted to talk with them.
By this time, the Pierces were out of jail on bond, but nervous about meeting Kidd. He had no official connection to their case.
“We didn't want to talk to him because he was a Clayton County officer and we’ve already been arrested for no reason,” Michael Pierce said. “We were scared to (and) scared not to, so we talked about it at the kitchen table with my kids, and my kids said we’d go meet and talk to him, but they were going to film it…to cover our butts in case we got arrested again.”
The Pierces said Officer Kidd tried to shake them down for money to make the charges go away.
You can hear the voice on the audio making an apparent money-back guarantee: “We ain’t had nothing yet that didn’t go away. If it don’t go away, if it go into the grand jury (inaudible) you get your money back.”
Mike Pierce said Kidd suggested he had someone inside the District Attorney’s Office who could get the case “administratively dismissed” for a price.
Again, the audio recording tells the story. “You'll never see him. He (inaudible) actually works with the DA in the office.” Mr. Pierce asked, “And we won’t get in trouble for bribing?” “No,” the voice identified as Kidd replied. “You ain’t never going to talk to him.”
“It’s unbelievable,” said attorney Lee Sexton, who represented the Pierces in the criminal case.
The charges against Michael and Michelle Pierce were dismissed, but the investigation into Officer Grant Kidd was just beginning.
Sexton Told Winne he immediately contacted Clayton County District Attorney Tracy Lawson.
“I have to give credit to her office. They did a very thorough, intensive investigation into not just the allegations the police made against my client, but the allegations that I was making against the people prosecuting the client,” Sexton said.
D.A. Lawson told Winne, “We immediately turned it over to the FBI.”
Lawson said she doesn’t really believe Kidd had anyone working inside her office, but said, “I would make sure that any employee of mine that took a bribe would get the maximum sentence.”
Winne took the audio of Kidd to Clayton County Police Chief Michael Register.
“Any conceivable reason he could be saying that?” Winne asked. “No,” said the chief. “It certainly is a conversation from my standpoint that just turns your stomach.”
The chief said when he learned of this, he immediately called Kidd in to revoke his official powers, but in the midst of that, Kidd quit.
He added he wishes someone would have told him about the allegations sooner.
Winne tried to reach Kidd by phone, through a lawyer, even went to his home several times, but Kidd never talked to Winne.
As for the Pierces, they’ve hired a civil attorney and filed a lawsuit.
“Instances such as this undermine public trust and confidence in our judicial system,” said attorney Darryl Scott. “Their sense of security has been violated, and they did exactly what they were supposed to do by contacting law enforcement and it backfired.”
The chief said that, outside of Kidd, the case was handled properly.
Cox Media Group