Ga. officer resigns, criticizes chief after video of traffic stop released
Officer James Legg accused his chief of being unable to carry out a fair investigation into his conduct at a traffic stop with a 65-year-old grandmother
By Zachary Hansen , Mark Niesse
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
ALPHARETTA, Ga. — An Alpharetta officer accused his police chief of being unable to carry out a fair investigation into his conduct at a traffic stop with a 65-year-old grandmother and has resigned as a result.
Officer James Legg’s resignation letter, which was released by police on social media Friday, was sent to Alpharetta police Chief John Robison following a video of the traffic stop being released.
In the letter, Legg defended his actions at the traffic stop, where he allegedly yelled, “Shut the (expletive) up and get out of the car,” at driver Rose Campbell.
“Maybe I should not have used profanity, but its immediate effectiveness is not questionable and I do believe I acted reasonably under the circumstances,” Legg wrote.
On a video released on social media before Legg’s resignation, the police chief said an internal investigation was being conducted. “There are aspects of the video that you are likely about to watch that simply do not represent who we are as an organization,” Robison said.
Due to the video being released by Robison, Legg stated in his resignation letter that he didn’t feel he would have received fair treatment.
“I do not feel I will get a fair internal affairs investigation from you due to the comments you made on Facebook prior to interviewing any of the other officers, or even me. Rather than let an independent agency or officer review my performance, you have all but issued a statement finding my actions unworthy, unreasonable, and in violation of police,” Legg wrote.
Legg said he plans to defend himself during the investigation, but he “will not subject (himself) to the investigation of an agency Chief who would rather care about public perception and political correctness over officer, suspect and the general public’s safety.”
Robison sent a statement Friday to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution regarding the investigation: “We want to assure everyone that our internal affairs investigation will continue and that appropriate actions, based on all of the facts, will be taken by the City.”
He added that the GBI will conduct its own investigation.
Campbell, a Lyft driver who had a passenger in her car at the time of the traffic stop, was pulled over by an officer who said she was not maintaining her lane. Legg arrived at the scene later as backup.
“It’s at night, there’s traffic, there’s other officers and there’s another passenger who was unidentified walking around the vehicle,” A.J. Richman, Legg’s attorney, told Channel 2 Action News. “He was called in to help effectuate the arrest, and he was doing his job. We don’t believe there was any excessive use of force here.”
Campbell said she just wants justice.
“When I was a teenager, we feared getting pulled over to get a ticket,” Campbell said. “Now I can't trust a blue light. No one should live like that. Why has this all of a sudden gone dark? It should not be this way.”
Outraged state representatives surrounded Campbell at the state Capitol on Friday as they called for justice. They said Campbell didn’t do anything wrong, and the situation escalated when she declined to sign the ticket until a supervisor arrived.
“We will not stand for police officers to treat senior citizens like Mama Campbell in this way,” said state Rep. Erica Thomas, a Democrat from Austell. “When young black boys stand before a judge and they say that we are going to make an example out of you, they don't ask for an apology. They say, ‘15 to 20 (years in prison).’ This police officer needs to be treated in that same manner.”
Richman told Channel 2 there was “absolutely” no racial animus from Legg.
Campbell, who suffers from diabetes and high blood pressure, was taken to the Alpharetta jail after the incident, where she wasn’t provided with insulin, said her attorney, Mutepe Akemon.
“The discretion to escalate violence is continually used against our community and folks who look like myself,” said state Rep. Renitta Shannon, a Democrat from Decatur. “Is that how you would treat your grandmother? Then don't come to our communities and treat our grandmothers that way.”
The ACLU of Georgia also released a statement to The AJC calling the video “extremely disturbing.”
©2018 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (Atlanta, Ga.)