ATLANTA - DeKalb County Sheriff Jeffrey Mann issued a statement late Monday afternoon insisting he will continue to serve the citizens of DeKalb County as sheriff, but added he will not comment on the allegations that he exposed himself and ran from a police officer at Piedmont Park Saturday night.
Sheriff Mann was arrested by Atlanta police on charges of indecency and obstruction of an officer, according to police. He was booked into the city jail at 1:42 a.m. May 7 and bonded out exactly one hour later on a $1,146 bond, according to officials at the Atlanta City Detention Center.
Sunday evening, the sheriff issued a statement through his spokesperson saying he is working with the city of Atlanta to "clear the charges."
According to the police report, Mann was arrested near Piedmont Park just after 11 p.m. on Saturday night in an area of the park known for sexual activity after dark.
The police report states that Mann allegedly fled from an officer who discovered him exposing himself in an area of Piedmont Park. According to the police report, Mann stopped to tie his shoes during the chase, then continued running once the arresting officer got closer. According to the officer, 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 to the arresting officer's commands.
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.
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.
Neighbors who declined to go on camera told FOX 5's Portia Bruner they were shocked by the allegations and the news of Mann's arrest, but said they would withhold judgment and see how he handles his legal problems with authorities.
At this point, I'm not so much concerned about whether he did it or not. I'm much more concerned about his well-being as a human and the emotional and psychological stress that he must be going through now," said the former D.A.
Legal experts told FOX 5 News the sheriff is not subject to removal from office by the governor since he was charged only with misdemeanors and no felonies.
Attorney Noah Pines released a statement late Monday on behalf of the sheriff. It reads:
“Sheriff Mann would like to thank his supporters for the many phone calls and prayers he received over the weekend. While Sheriff Mann would like to address his supporters and the public, I have instructed him not to make any statements regarding the ordinance violations he is facing. Similarly, as is my general practice, I will not discuss the charges at this time.
“Sheriff Mann will continue to run the DeKalb County Sheriff's Office at the level of excellence it is known for and in keeping with what the citizens of DeKalb County expect and deserve. He asks that you respect that this is a personal matter, which should have no bearing on the DeKalb County Sheriff's Office and its staff. He has great respect for the men and women of law enforcement and he asks that you continue your support of them and the public service they provide.”
Mann will make his next court appearance on June 2.