GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. - A local county leader is in hot water again after deputies say he was disrespectful to them as they helped guide the funeral procession for a slain officer.
Last week, the streets of Gwinnett County were lined with people paying their respects as the body of slain officer Antwan Toney was taken from his funeral service to a funeral home.
That's when two Hall County deputies say Gwinnett County Commissioner Tommy Hunter pulled up to the intersection of Highways 20 and 124, which deputies were blocking, and demanded to be let through.
"’Why are you blocking my intersection?’ is what he asked the deputies," Hall County Sheriff Gerald Couch told Channel 2’s Tony Thomas in an exclusive interview Friday.
Couch said 52 of his deputies volunteered to come to Gwinnett County to direct traffic so Gwinnett police officers could attend Toney's service.
“The deputies did not allow him to go through because the procession was coming through at that very moment and they were paying their respects to the officer,” Couch said.
Thomas filed an open records request and received statements written by the two deputies.
One deputy wrote Hunter told them "he was the County Commissioner and said that the officer (Toney) worked for me." The deputy wrote he heard Hunter say, "He needed to get his a** back to Hall County."
“The level of disrespect in this situation astounded me,” Couch told Thomas.
When Channel 2 Action News and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution texted Hunter to get his side of the story he replied, “Nah, it was nothing.” When about asked his thoughts on being deemed disrespectful, Hunter replied in another text, “It was an emotional day. “
Couch said at one point, Hunter pulled over to the side of the road and took pictures of the deputies. He said Hunter then called him to complain about the deputies.
Couch said Hunter told him, “They were rude and disrespectful to him as a county commissioner in his own county and they should have allowed him to pass.”
“They were in fact not rude and they were not disrespectful in any form or fashion that day and in fact I'm very proud of them. There was disrespect shown that day, but it was not shown on the part of my officers,” Couch said.
Couch said he called Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners Chair Charlotte Nash to lodge his own complaint about his deputies' treatment.
Nash sent a statement to Thomas, saying:
“Sheriff Couch from Hall County contacted me to share information about the incident you have referenced. I apologized to Sheriff Couch for the incident. I also reiterated how very grateful we were for the tremendous support and commitment of personnel from the Hall County Sheriff’s Office during a very difficult time for Gwinnett.”
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