ATLANTA — A deputy accused of assaulting and injuring a defendant in the YSL RICO trial during a scuffle was fired from a local police department in 2020 after he lied about using excessive force on a suspect and failed to activate his body camera, according to state records reviewed by Channel 2 Action News.
Channel 2′s Michael Seiden reported that Fulton County Deputy Morris Kandakai, a member of the Scorpion Unit, has been placed on administrative duties pending the outcome of an internal affairs investigation, a spokesperson confirmed in an email.
This comes one day after defense attorney Angela D’Williams filed a formal complaint on behalf of Rodalius Ryan, one of the 13 co-defendants standing trial with hip-hop superstar Young Thug.
“My client, Rodalius Ryan Jr., was a victim of an unwarranted attack by Investigator (Morris) Kandakai, of the Scorpion Unit of the Fulton County Sheriff’s Department, on January 23, 2023,” D’Willams wrote in the complaint.
“Although every deputy is equipped with a body camera, Investigator (Morris) Kandakai intentionally did not activate his body camera, while viciously attacking Mr. Ryan, he punched Mr. Ryan in the head,” she wrote in the complaint. “The officer’s attack continued, he dragged him out of the vehicle, which caused Mr. Ryan’s head to hit the concrete of the sidewalk and caused contusions to his body.”
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In an incident report filed Monday by Kandakai, the deputy reported the scuffle took place as he was preparing to transport Ryan from the jail to the courthouse.
“Inmate Ryan began to spit on the rear floor of my patrol vehicle while I was sitting on the front driver side,” the deputy wrote in his incident report. “I then informed Inmate Ryan to stop spitting or he would have to clean up his own bodily fluids. Inmate Ryan advised, ‘I am not cleaning up [expletive],’ and continued to spit, but at this time towards my direction.”
The deputy claims that Ryan spit in his face and he told another deputy that he was going to remove him from the vehicle to put a spit mask on him, according to the report.
“I walked to the rear passenger side door, opened the door and advised inmate Ryan to exit the vehicle where he ignored my order,” he wrote in the incident report. “I then reached inside the patrol vehicle to remove Inmate Ryan where he stiffened his body and laid out in the backseat of the patrol vehicle and flailing his legs, in a kicking motion to prevent me from removing him. I was able to physically control one of his ankles during this time and Inmate Ryan was physically extracted from the patrol vehicle and placed on the ground.”
Ryan’s attorney alleges the deputy used excessive force on her client which required medical care.
“He had a knot on his head, blood dripping from his wrist and finger, and scrapes on his legs,” according to the complaint.
“Although Investigator Kandakai failed to activate his body camera, there should be a dash camera or camera on the vehicle that captured all the actions of both parties during this volatile incident. The camera footage will provide for transparency and give clarity into this incident,” according to the complaint.
Department policy requires all members of the Scorpion Unit to wear body cameras. The vehicle transporting Ryan from the jail to the courthouse was not equipped with a camera, a spokesperson confirmed.
Hours after the incident, investigators charged Ryan with one count of simple battery and one count of willful obstruction of law enforcement officers.
Ryan, who is already serving a life sentence for a 2019 murder, is standing trial after prosecutors charged him with one count of violating Georgia’s RICO act as part of a sweeping gang indictment filed last year.
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A Channel 2 Action News investigation discovered that Morris Kandakai was hired by the Fulton County Sheriff’s Office despite his troubled past.
In March 2020, Kandakai was working as a police sergeant for the City of South Fulton when he was involved in the controversial arrest of a suspected shoplifter.
“While in the process of the subject being handcuffed, Sgt. MK (Morris Kandakai) ran up and dropped to a knee in the area of the subject’s head, face and shoulder,” according to a case summary submitted online to the Georgia Peace Officer Standards and Training Council (POST), the state agency charged with certifying police.
“Officer SF still had momentum when he dropped to a knee on the subject. The subject screamed out, ‘my face, he just put his knee in my face!’”
Body camera video from another officer showed Kandakai’s knee close to the suspect’s face while he was being handcuffed, according to POST records.
During his interview, Kandakai told investigators that he felt the suspect was attempting to get up while another officer was attempting to handcuff him, but the arresting officer refuted that account, telling investigators that once the suspect was on the ground, he didn’t show any resistance,” POST records confirmed.
The internal affairs investigation also determined that Kandakai did not activate his body camera during the incident. This was the second violation of department policy within a year. The first violation happened in February 2020 after he allowed a motorist to drive away in an unregistered vehicle without a valid license. The violation resulted in a two-day suspension, according to POST records.
In July 2020, Kandakai was terminated from the South Fulton Police Department for violating several department policies, including truthfulness, unnecessary force, maltreatment of prisoners and camera system activation, POST records confirmed.
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POST ordered him to serve 24 months on probation, but that did not keep him out of law enforcement. In January 2021, Kandakai joined the Clayton County Sheriff’s Office before submitting his resignation two months later. Two weeks later, he joined the Fulton County Sheriff’s Office, according to online records.
Channel 2 reached out to Fulton County, inquiring about why he was hired despite his troubled past, but a spokesperson declined to answer citing the ongoing investigation.
A review of his POST profile also showed that Kandakai has been a licensed peace officer since 2012 when he joined the Atlanta Police Department before submitting his resignation in 2015 and joining the Roswell Police Department.
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