Ga. police chief under fire after body camera footage shows him berating neighboring officers

PIKE COUNTY, Ga, — Body camera footage shows the moment a Georgia police chief got into a confrontation with two officers who pulled him over. The chief is now accused of retaliating against the police department that the officers work for.

Channel 2′s Tom Jones learned Zebulon Police Chief Jonathan Hemphill allegedly stopped the Molena Police Department from using his department’s radio channel, which is used for emergencies.

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“Yes sir. No need to get upset,” an officer says to Hemphill.

“I’m upset because I spoke to you when I come by and now you’re pulling me over,” Hemphill replied.

It was a traffic stop that left this driver very upset.

“Why are you getting hostile?”

“Easy. I don’t have to talk to you,” Hemphill replied.

Hemphill was agitated after two Molena police officers pulled him over back in August. So agitated, he walked into the personal space of one of them.

“Why are you coming up to me like that. I’m doing my job right,” the officer asked Hemphill.

The driver let the officers know he wasn’t just anybody.

“I’m the Police Chief in Zebulon,” he said.


The officers told Zebulon’s Chief Hemphill they pulled him over because of his dark window tint.

When they ran his tag, it came back to a different vehicle.

“It doesn’t come back to that vehicle,” the officer informed Hemphill.

“Because you ran it wrong. Somebody ran it wrong,” he said.

Molena’s police chief Matthew Polk says dispatch did run it wrong at first, but ran it again and it came back as a ghost tag, meaning it was not on file because it’s used for law enforcement.

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Polk said he couldn’t believe what he saw on the bodycam.

“I could never see myself acting that way,” Polk said.

During the stop, Polk says Hemphill called him and asked him to do something about the officers. Polk says when he refused to dole out any discipline, Hemphill retaliated.

Molena officers had been using Zebulon’s radio channel to communicate with 911.

“I was told we need to find another channel to work off of,” Polk said.

Some say that jeopardizes public safety. The City of Zebulon says it is looking for an independent third party to investigate the chief’s actions. Polk says this is not the way he expects a police chief to act.

“I’m trying to talk with you,” the officer said to Hemphill.

“I don’t want to talk anymore about it,” he replied.