• Chief accused of choking teen; Family alleges police brutality

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    DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. - A local police chief is accused of choking a teen and squeezing his hand so tightly during an arrest that he bled.

    Records obtained by Channel 2 Action News show Lithonia Police Chief Roosevelt Smith admitted he put his hands around 17-year-old Isiah Harvey’s neck on Feb. 5.

    However, there are differences in the stories about what prompted the incident.

    Records show police arrested Harvey for allegedly breaking into a home. But it’s what happened in the back of the patrol car that has Harvey’s father upset.

    “I would call it police brutality. If I choked someone like that, they would lock me up,” Harvey’s father, Ricky Thomas, said.

    Thomas says his son hasn’t been the same since his encounter with Smith.

    “He should be locked up if you ask me,” Thomas said. “He should be charged with assault.”

    According to Harvey, the chief allegedly squeezed his chin, then grabbed his Adam’s apple for 7-10 seconds.

    “He squeezed the handcuffs around my client’s wrists to the point where it immediately drew out blood and accused swelling,” said Harvey’s attorney, Frank Smith.

    The report the chief wrote says Harvey’s kicking and threats prompted him to react. A captain’s report backed that up.

    Sgt. Angela Hatchett told another story.

    A statement she wrote the day after the incident says, “What I observed last night was wrong. Chief Smith and Captain L. Owens assaulted Mr. Harvey… Their actions were unjustifiable and unethical.”

    Frank Smith has informed the city of Lithonia that he may sue. He and his client are seeking $75,000.

    “At some point, you have to decide that someone is lying -- either Sgt. Hatchett is lying or the chief and that captain are lying,” Smith said.

    The city’s administrator, who is the former chief, is conducting the internal investigation. He says the investigation should be complete in a week.

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