Cobb County

Cobb County police respond to arrest that led to 2 officers being fired

COBB COUNTY, Ga. — For the first time, Cobb County police are responding to an arrest that ended with two officers losing their jobs.

Cobb Public Safety Director Mike Register sat down with Channel 2 Investigative Reporter Mark Winne and told him that a supervisor was spot-checking body camera video last year and found a troubling video from one arrest.

The arrest of Montavious Smith last August led to an internal affairs investigation that resulted in officers Nicholas Malagon and Noah Maack being fired.

An incident report suggested that the officers “tackled” the suspect to the ground, but Internal Affairs Commander Damon Ballard says nothing on the body camera from the incident supports that claim.

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“Why did y’all punch me?” Smith can be heard asking on the body camera footage.

“Because you didn’t listen,” officers responded.

Ballard says that officers were responding to reports of two pairs of people pointing guns at each other near a Six Flags Over Georgia parking lot.

He says the video shows officers punching Smith, but that Smith was not resisting them. Ballard goes on to say that this is against department policy.

“The chief made the decision to terminate and great decision,” Register told Winne.

Cobb County Police Chief Stuart VanHoozer says he terminated Malagon for unreasonable use of force and other policy violations. Maack was fired for making false statements in his incident report, including saying that Smith was tackled.

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Maack also suggested to internal affairs that his report was based on what he saw and other sources of information.

“I mean, not really. I mean, I guess I could use a different word other than tackle,” Maack can be heard saying in a recording of an interview with internal affairs.

Chief VanHoozer said some in the department felt that neither officer should be fired, but he says he weighed the decision “prayerfully.”

The chief also asked the Georgia Bureau of Investigation to determine if there were any criminal charges that should have been added.

Smith faces a misdemeanor drug charge and obstruction or hindering law enforcement and tampering with evidence, according to the Cobb Solicitor’s Office.

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The Cobb County Board of Commissioners shared a statement on Tuesday evening that read,

I was disheartened about what transpired when I learned of the event. It does not reflect the police force we are or want to be.

Our leadership responded appropriately in evaluating what transpired and removing the officers involved from the department.

Our police department, under the leadership of Chief VanHoozer, continues to make tremendous gains in connecting with the community while meeting expectations and overcoming the profession's challenges.

What occurred serves as a humbling exception that there is always an opportunity for improvement when training officers to respond to stressful events. I hope this circumstance does not deter the commitment of our officers who are called to serve and protect all members of our community, including those who are taken into custody.

—  Lisa Cupid, Chairwoman of the Cobb County Board of Commissioners

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