05/24/2006

Ga. chief fires 5 cops involved in bar fight

DAVID SIMPSON
Copyright 2006 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution 

DeKalb County interim police Chief Nick Marinelli moved swiftly on his first high-profile disciplinary decision, firing five officers who were involved in an off-duty fight at a bar.

The firings were announced Tuesday, 12 days after the brawl early on May 11 at the Famous Pub on North Druid Hills Road.

The original police report said off-duty officers broke up a fight inside the bar, but a video shot by someone outside the bar captured what was apparently a second rumble on the sidewalk.

That video shows several men hitting and kicking an unidentified man. The video was passed along to the department by a television reporter soon after the incident, and the five officers were placed on leave.

The department's internal affairs unit had not yet prepared its final report on the matter Tuesday, but Marinelli went ahead with the firings for what a department statement said was "conduct unbecoming."

Police spokesmen said they did not have details on what the investigation found, and Marinelli did not respond to a request for an interview Tuesday.

The five fired officers were identified as P. Maldonado, J. Ferrell, J. Tammaro, M. Kendrick and G. McMillan. Efforts to reach them through phone listings Tuesday were unsuccessful.

By the time investigating officers arrived at the bar the night of the fight, several men who reportedly fought the off-duty cops had left, a police report said.

The man shown on the video fighting the officers has not come forward to file charges, said Officer Jason Gagnon, a police spokesman. Gagnon said he did not know if internal affairs investigators talked to the man.

The officers are eligible for a county appeals process.

Dennis Hammock, director of the International Brotherhood of Police Officers' Atlanta office, said the police union had been in contact with some of the fired officers. But he said the union would represent them only if it is determined they were fired for "job-related issues."

Marinelli was named interim chief May 3 after former chief Louis Graham resigned.

Staff writer Ernie Suggs contributed to this article. 
 
Photo: Nick Marinelli
 
May 24, 2006

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