DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. - The attorney for DeKalb County Sheriff Jeffrey Mann takes takes issue with Governor Nathan Deal's decision to tap the Attorney General and two Georgia sheriffs to investigate the May 6th arrest of Sheriff Mann at Piedmont Park.
“I will not discuss the facts..answer any questions,” Pines said Friday in the lobby of the Sheriff's Department.
Pines advised Sheriff Mann not to speak publicly about allegations that Mann exposed himself at Piedmont Park and ran from an Atlanta Police Officer and focused, instead, on the charges filed by Atlanta Police.
“I'm here to tell you sheriff Mann is not facing criminal charges. He was arrested for violating City of Atlanta ordinances. Ordinance violations, by definition, are not criminal charges,” Pines said as Sheriff Mann stood by his side.
In a letter sent to Governor Deal Friday, Pines asked the governor to reconsider the Executive Order that launched the state investigation Thursday. The committee, comprised of Attorney General Chris Carr, Newton County Sheriff Ezell Brown and Peach County Sheriff Terry Deese, has 30 days to make a recommendation about whether the sheriff should be suspended from office. Pines said state law does not give Deal the authority to appoint a committee to investigate ordinance violations.
“I have not received a response yet,” said Pines. The Governor's spokeswoman, Jen Ryan, referred Fox 5's Portia Bruner to the Georgia Sheriff's Association for comment. On May 9th, Sheriff Deese, made the initial request for the Governor to appoint the committee that would investigate the Mann's arrest. Deese is the president of the Association.
Sheriff Mann stood in silence Friday, flanked by members of his staff and former DeKalb Sheriff Thomas Brown, as his attorney read a statement written by Mann. In it, Mann apologized to the citizens of DeKalb and to his staff and vowed to remain in office.
"I want to thank my supporters for the many phone calls, messages, and prayers," said Mann in a statement read out loud by his attorney. "It has been heartening to hear from you and to learn of your continues support of me as your sheriff. I'm fully aware that the people want to hear from me, and I understand it. My attorney has asked me not to speak to the media. He wants me to allow the judicial process the opportunity to work. I'm going to take his advice, and allow him to speak for me. When the case is resolved, I look forward to speaking with my constituents. For now, I would like to deeply apologize to the citizens of DeKalb County for the unfavorable light I have brought on this county, the men and women of the DeKalb County Sheriff's Office, and most importantly the citizens. I've already met with my supervisor and staff, and had a heartfelt conversation with them about this situation. I let my staff know, and I want you to know, the citizens of this county, that I am still your sheriff, and hope to remain and continue as your sheriff. I understand that I was elected by the voters of DeKalb County, and I intend to continue to serve the people of this county. I have been at work this week, and I will continue to come to work to maintain the high level of excellence that the citizens of DeKalb County come to deserve and expect from the sheriff's office. I pledge to you that my only goal is to do the work that you elected me to do."
Mann was arrested for allegedly exposing himself and running from a police officer at Piedmont Park on May 6, according to a police report. The Sheriff was booked into the Atlanta City Jail at 1:42am on May 7, according to authorities.
According to the police report, Mann eventually stopped running after a quarter of a mile foot chase that covered 9th Street, 10th Street and Argonne Ave. The officer said he complied, then got on the ground and followed the arresting officer's commands.
Sheriff Mann issued a statement on May 8 saying that he will remain in office and would fight the charges.
On May 11, Governor Nathan Deal appointed an investigative committee following the arrest of the DeKalb County Sheriff. The investigative committee will be made up of Attorney General Chris Carr, Newton County Sheriff Ezell Brown and Sheriff Terry Deese.
The committee has to turn in its report to the governor’s office within 30 days.
At Friday's press conference, Pines expressed his opinion that the law does not allow Deal to form the investigative committee because Mann was arrested for violation of ordinances, not criminal activity. Pines said that he sent Governor Deal a letter, and has not received a response.
Former DeKalb County district attorney and supporter of Mann's 2016 re-election bid, Robert James, was stunned by news of the arrest but is urging people to withhold judgment.
"It sounds bad. It looks bad and obviously, there's nothing to sugarcoat here. But we haven't heard his side of the story and we need to reserve judgment because, in this country, everyone is innocent until proven guilty and we have not heard his side of the story or even all of the facts," said James, who served as District Attorney for 10 years.
Several metro Atlanta groups are calling for the resignation of DeKalb County Sheriff Jeff Mann in the wake of his arrest. Members of the New Order National Human Rights Organization hand-delivered a letter to the Sheriff's Office on May 10, hoping to add some pressure.
“We're asking him to resign immediately. The pressure is going to be coming within 24 hours because this unacceptable,” said New Order President Gerald Rose.
“Whatever you did, that's really your personal life. But you have a public job, an important job, a high position as a Sheriff, you're setting a bad example and you need to resign,” Rose said Wednesday before delivering the letter to the Sheriff's reception desk.
Mann, the 49th sheriff of DeKalb County, has been with the office for ten years, according to their website. A former member of the U.S. Air Force, Mann also served an assistant county attorney in DeKalb County.
He was the Chief Deputy for several years for Sheriff Thomas Brown. He was elected in 2014 to fill Brown's vacant seat after Brown stepped down to run for Congress. In November 2016, he was elected to serve his first full 4-year term in office.