Former GPD officer’s prior agency reported multiple disciplinary problems

SHEILA A. MATHEWS :::

Publisher’s note – This is the first in a series of articles examining the record of Tyler Cooper, a former officer of the Griffin Police Department, the hiring process of the agency and how its administration addresses complaints against officers and disciplinary measures.

Prior to being hired by the Griffin Police Department (GPD), Tyler Cooper had been previously employed by the Georgia Department of Corrections (DoC), and immediately prior, had served as a deputy with the Butts County Sheriff’s Office (BCSO), where he was sworn in on May 21, 2014.

His employment with the BCSO ended following a June 28, 2015, off-duty incident.

According to a report prepared by Lt. Tony Hanson, of the BCSO Uniform Patrol Division, Cooper, while off-duty and in plain clothes, held a man – Demarceo Stodgill – at gunpoint at a BP Service Station.

Hanson reported that at approximately 10:30 p.m., Butts County 911 dispatched multiple city of Jackson patrol units to the BP Station located at 347 3rd St., where Cooper was detaining Stodgill, and was said to have several people forming a crowd around him. Hanson also responded to the scene.

“I approached Deputy Cooper and asked him what he was doing. Deputy Cooper responded, ‘I am apprehending a wanted fugitive,’” Hanson wrote. He instructed Cooper to meet him immediately at the Sheriff’s Office.

There, Cooper explained he had observed a man he knew to be wanted on a warrant out of Butts County, and that he had called dispatch to report he was out with Stodgill. Cooper stated Stodgill got into his car and began to leave.

“Deputy Cooper stated that he blocked Demarceo’s car with his personal Chevrolet Camaro and exited his car with a pistol that he was carrying off duty,” Hanson reported. “Deputy Cooper said that he pointed the pistol at Demarceo and ordered him to the ground.”

Hanson said he then counseled Cooper on the incident.

“I explained to Deputy Cooper that when he is off duty he should not intervene in this type of situation unless life’s (sic) are in jeopardy. Deputy Cooper stated that he is a sworn officer and is never off duty,” Hanson said. “I explained to Deputy Cooper that he was not identifiable as a deputy sheriff and was not in a Sheriff’s Office car. I explained that Demarceo could have mistaken him for someone trying to commit a robbery and he could have been shot or injured. Deputy Cooper stated again that he is a sheriff’s deputy and has a job to do whether he is on duty or off. I explained to Deputy Cooper that he should have contacted the sergeant or myself to have uniformed officers and marked patrol cars on scene. Deputy Cooper became upset and stated that he is the only deputy that works in this department and that he did nothing wrong. Deputy Cooper stated that everyone hates him in this department. I explained to Deputy Cooper that no one hates him. He just continually makes mistakes and does not learn from them.”

Hanson placed Cooper on administrative leave and retrieved his county-issued badge and weapons. Cooper was told to report to the Sheriff’s Office the following day, June 29, 2016.

In addition to the June 2016 incident, Hanson also noted in his report numerous additional incidents involving Cooper. Hanson cited six other incidents he said had occurred in the approximately 16 months since Cooper had been sworn in as a deputy with the BCSO.

Hanson reported he had been Cooper’s field training officer, and that following the 10-week training period, had served for several months as his sergeant.

“I took Deputy Cooper under my wing, but still continually had problems. I attributed this to his lack of experience,” Hanson wrote.

He noted several problems regarding Cooper’s performance that had been discussed with the deputy.

Hanson specifically cited an Aug. 3, 2015, at-fault wreck in the Garden Apartments; an Aug. 7, 2015, incident during which he said Cooper detained a juvenile “without reason;” an Aug. 9, 2015, discussion addressing Cooper’s alleged reckless driving and use of emergency lights and siren at inappropriate times; and an Aug. 19, 2015, incident when Cooper drove his marked patrol car to Gordon College.

Hanson also noted incidents continuing into 2016.

“On March 11, 2016, Deputy Cooper was removed from the Uniform Patrol Division and assigned to the jail as a detention officer due to an officer safety issue involving the Narcotics Unit and the Criminal Investigation Division,” Hanson stated. “Several weeks later he was placed back in the Uniform Patrol Division and reassigned to a full-length FTO program under J. Bryson for the first five weeks. After the first five weeks were complete Deputy Cooper was placed on Sgt. Hutto’s shift for a shadow phase.”

Cooper was still in the midst of his reassignment to the full-length FTO program when the BP Station incident with Demarceo occurred.

Hanson also noted another incident reported June 26, 2016, two days prior to the Demarceo incident.

On that date, Cooper was said to have detained a 13-year-old juvenile “without cause.”

Hanson concluded his report by stating, “Deputy Cooper is a hard worker but is not progressing in the Uniform Patrol Division. Deputy Cooper does not learn from his mistakes and does not respond to training. I have exhausted every option to help Deputy Cooper. I do not want to see Deputy Cooper or another officer/deputy injured due to Deputy Cooper’s unsafe actions. Deputy Cooper is a liability to himself, other officers/deputies and to this department. For this reason I recommend termination.”

Rather than terminate Cooper, he was offered a reassignment to the jail as a detention officer. Cooper declined and resigned from the Butts County Sheriff’s Office.

Approximately two months after resigning from the Butt’s County Sheriff’s Office, Tyler Cooper was hired as a patrol officer in the Griffin Police Department.

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Comments

  1. Griffin PD shouldn’t have ever hired him based on his background.

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