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Georgia officer resigns after dragging black woman, 65, from car

Last Updated May 11, 2018 3:15 PM EDT

ALPHARETTA, Ga. -- A police department in Georgia has opened an internal investigation into why an elderly black woman was dragged out of her car during a traffic stop, authorities say. The Alpharetta Department of Public Safety says an officer has resigned following the May 4 incident outside of Atlanta, which was caught on dashcam video.

The 65-year-old woman was pulled over after an Alpharetta police officer saw her vehicle drift into another lane, nearly causing a collision, the department said in a Facebook post. The woman refused to sign her ticket, as required by law in Georgia, and was told she would be arrested for not complying. 

May 4 traffic stop

Living up to our Standards On Friday evening, one of our officers made a traffic stop for a moving violation that escalated to an arrest of the driver. During the incident, another officer arrived and, as you’ll see from the dash camera video, did not perform in a manner that is reflective of who we are as an organization. The stop was made on Windward Pkwy near GA400 when our officer observed the violator’s vehicle drift into another lane nearly causing a collision. The encounter began normally until the violator refused to sign the ticket being issued. After being told that she would be arrested for not signing the ticket, she requested that a supervisor respond to the scene. A supervisor was immediately notified per the request. Why is it required to sign a ticket in Georgia? Technically, a ticket is an arrest that requires a bond. Officers are permitted, at their discretion, to release people on a signature bond for most traffic tickets, city ordinance violations, and certain state law charges. If the violator refuses to sign the ticket, they will be taken into custody and brought before a magistrate to pay a cash bond as a promise to appear in court. While a situation may arise when someone is charged with an offense that they feel is unjust, a courtroom is the time and place to dispute the officer’s decision. It is there that the officer must prove their case to a judge and/or jury. During this particular stop, you will see that the driver became so upset that she struck the officer with the door of her vehicle. She was then told that she was under arrest and, after she refused to obey the officer’s lawful order to step out of the vehicle, the officer attempted to physically remove her. As you’ll see, this was a complicated issue due to the age of the driver as the officer did not want to hurt her. Back-up was requested and available officers responded to the scene, some of which responded to handle traffic control along Windward Pkwy. One officer in particular; however, interjected himself into the situation using language and tactics that were inappropriate, even inflammatory. Again, this officer’s behavior does not reflect who we are as an organization and, because of this, we have initiated an Internal Affairs investigation. Our process allows us to thoroughly review the matter and determine what actions are appropriate moving forward.

Posted by Alpharetta Department of Public Safety on Thursday, May 10, 2018

She requested a supervisor, who was immediately notified, the department said. The situation, seen on the dashcam video, escalated when backup officers arrived on the scene.

Alpharetta police said the woman became upset and struck the officer with the door of her vehicle when she tried to pull it closed. She was then told she was under arrest, police said, but did not obey the officer's order to step out of her car, saying she wanted to wait for the supervisor.

One of the officers can been heard on the video yelling, "You're not in charge, shut the [expletive] up and get out of the car," before two other officers are seen attempting to pull her from the car. The woman is hear crying for help as the officers pull her arms behind her back. 

Officer James Legg, who was identified as the officer who used vulgar language, "interjected himself into the situation using language and tactics that were inappropriate, even inflammatory," according to the department's Facebook post. Legg resigned from the department on May 11. 

"We strive to be a transparent department. If we are going to be 100 percent transparent, that means that we also must be willing to share with you any major concerns that arise regarding employee performance and behavior," Public Safety Chief John Robison said. "There are aspects about this video that simply do not represent our organization."

Robison said he immediately ordered an internal affairs investigation and promised decisive action at the conclusion of the investigation.