GPD Chief Yates says audio recording now part of Internal Affairs investigation has been altered

Griffin Police Department Chief Mike Yates – Photo courtesy of the city of Griffin

SHEILA A. MATHEWS :::

Griffin City Manager Jessica O’Connor on Monday confirmed the city is investigating an audio recording posted last week on social media that purportedly represents a meeting involving Griffin Police Department Chief Mike Yates and Lt. Chris Wilson, a member of Yates’s command staff.

The recording was posted to the personal Facebook page of local citizen activist Ray Harps-Muhammad at 3:36 p.m. Dec. 8. 

When asked if she could cite the basis of the investigation, O’Connor said, “Not yet. It’s still under investigation. I’ll be honest with you. I have an about five-inch file sitting on my desk that I have to go through to make a determination of what we are doing.”

O’Connor said she anticipates she will begin reviewing that file today.

“At that point, we’ll be able to talk about it,” she said.

She did confirm that no one has been placed on administrative leave at this point in the investigation.
______________________________________________________________________________
The recording that is now part of a Griffin Police Department Internal Affairs investigation can be heard here:
https://www.facebook.com/ray.harpsmuhammad/videos/626349568399145
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In a follow up interview, O’Connor specified the nature of the file she is slated to begin reviewing today.

“We have an open Internal Affairs investigation. I don’t know who initiated that. Probably Chief Yates, but that’s what’s on my desk that I have to go through,” she said when asked if any complaints had been filed in reference to the recording or the meeting it reportedly represents.

That Internal Affairs investigation was initiated last week and was conducted by Lt. Daniel Jett, who is assigned to the Griffin Police Department’s Office of the Chief.

The GRIP reached out to Yates and Wilson Sunday, asking both GPD officers if they could authenticate the recording or verify if it accurately represents a meeting involving both men.

Wilson did not respond, but Yates did.

“In my opinion, only the person who makes such a record and possesses the original can authenticate such a recording, and, as you know and have stated to me in the past, Facebook material is notoriously unreliable,” Yates said.

“Aside from authenticating this specific recording, can you verify whether it is an accurate representation of a 2021 meeting involving yourself and Lt. Chris Wilson?” The GRIP responded. “If this meeting did involve the two of you, that verification would be possible.”

Yates replied, “I disagree as far as authentication goes but I can say with certainty that the recording you referenced has been altered from any meeting I have ever had.”

In light of Yates’s assertion that the recording has been altered, O’Connor was asked if a criminal investigation is likely.

“From what I understand so far, no, I don’t think there’s anything criminal,” she said. “I mean, I guess for us, the point is it’s not our recording. It’s like he (Yates) said in his email, Facebook is so unreliable. When someone gets on there and posts something especially when they opine there’s no way of knowing what’s reliable or true, especially when it’s not our recording. It was made by an individual who gave it to someone else, and it could have passed through several sets of hands before it went on Facebook, so there’s no way of knowing how it may have been edited or how many times it may have been edited.”

Yates was informed that The GRIP had already submitted an Open Records request seeking production of all iterations of recordings related to the alleged meeting and that a thorough comparison would take place and any differences noted in future reporting.

“That would be wise,” Yates said. 

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Comments

  1. Kathy Laws says:

    If the Grip provides “relevant” news then why is it not reporting on the suspected child molester sitting on the school board???
    You said you were going to write about this but NOTHING. You insinuated that you couldn’t write about this because of family issues and yet you found time to write this article. Why not let the community know about a potential child molester who currently holds a position of authority and power over the children of Spalding County???

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