After a Fulton County judge dropped the charges against six Fulton County jailers accused in an inmate’s death in 2018, the Georgia Supreme Court has overturned the ruling and the six will stand trial after all.
The six deputies – Arron Cook, Guito Dela Cruz, Omar Jackson, Jason Roache, Kenesia Strowder and William Whitaker – were indicted in 2021 by Fulton County DA Fani Willis. They were accused by family attorneys of repeatedly tasing May, who’d gone to jail after a misdemeanor trespassing arrest in the midst of what his family said was a mental health crisis, as well as beating him and leaving him in a pool of his own blood.
“Last November, a Fulton County Superior Court judge quashed the indictments. He ruled prosecutors should have given the deputies notice of their indictment, thus allowing the jailers the opportunity to testify before the grand jury that eventually indicted them,” Atlanta News First wrote.
The Supreme Court unanimously reversed the decision to throw out the indictments on the premise that the jailers did not meet the qualifications of a peace officer, meaning they do not have pre-indictment protections.
“Here, the trial court rested its conclusion that the defendants were charged with preserving the
public peace on the sole fact that the defendants were responsible for maintaining order among
the inmates confined to the Fulton County Jail. While it is true that the defendants’ work may have
benefited the public peace, a tangential benefit to the public peace is not synonymous with a duty to maintain the peace within the community as a whole,” Justice Charlie Bethel said in the opinion.
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