3 sheriff's officials convicted of covering up use of force

AP News
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Posted: Jun 11, 2015 7:43 PM

ALBANY, Ga. (AP) — Three Georgia law enforcement officials have been convicted in a cover-up after a former deputy who is the son of a sheriff was accused of hitting a man in the face with a flashlight, authorities said.

Decatur County Sheriff's Capt. Elizabeth Croley was convicted Wednesday of writing a false report and withholding information from investigators and attorneys.

Deputies Christopher Kines and Robert Wade Umbach were convicted of lying to the FBI, federal prosecutors said.

Aaron Parrish was arrested in September 2012 during a motorcycle festival in Bainbridge, Georgia. A complaint filed in 2014 says former Grady County sheriff's deputy Wiley Griffin IV, son of the Decatur County sheriff, repeatedly hit Parrish in his face with a metal flashlight, causing cuts, bleeding, swelling and bruising. In their news release Thursday, prosecutors said other deputies — including Kines and Umbach — restrained Parrish while Griffin hit him in the eye with the flashlight.

Croley filed a misleading report on the man's arrest and intentionally withheld details on Parrish's detention from his lawyer and the local district attorney's office, authorities said.

Croley — who is listed on the department's website as its victims advocate — said in a report that a witness saw Parrish start a fight with her. Prosecutors said the witness had actually given Croley a written statement saying someone else instigated the fight, the complaint said. The report Croley filed didn't mention Griffin, and Kines and Umbach lied to federal investigators about seeing the sheriff's son at the scene, prosecutors said.

The jury acquitted Griffin of charges that he used excessive force against Parrish. Court records show a civil suit Parrish filed against Griffin, the three Decatur County sheriff's workers, the county and others is pending. The attorney representing the county said he couldn't comment on pending litigation.

Decatur County Sheriff Wiley Griffin told WALB-TV (http://bit.ly/1Qs2P9O) the three have been fired and that he was disappointed in the jury's decision. A call to his office wasn't immediately returned Thursday afternoon.

Croley won the deputy sheriff of the year award for professionalism in 2012 — the same year as the incident involving the sheriff's son — according to the department's website. She faces up to 20 years in prison for filing a false report and a year for violating Parrish's civil rights by withholding evidence, prosecutors said.

Kines and Umbach each face up to 20 years for making misleading statements to federal investigators. A sentencing date has not been set.