STONE MOUNTAIN, Ga. - In this day and age, police officers are under intense scrutiny. Any complaint of bad conduct could trigger an internal investigation and possible disciplinary action. So our FOX 5 I-Team was intrigued when a DeKalb Fire department employee complained that a local police officer cussed her out. Dale Russell reports that things are not always as they seem.
Stone Mountain Police Sergeant Stephen Floyd was patrolling on a sleepy DeKalb County street early one morning when he spotted a car with an expired tag.
He ordered the driver to pull over. Routine stuff. But, what happened next was far from routine. This stop led to a citizen's complaint alleging a "hostile" Sgt. Floyd "threatened" a witness to the traffic stop.
This is how it unfolded. Sergeant Floyd approached the car to find DeKalb County Fire and Rescue Captain Terrell Davis behind the wheel.
And virtually the first words out of Captain Davis' mouth, "Do I need to call my chief or supervisor, your chief or Dr. Alexander?"
Dr. Alexander is DeKalb County's Public Safety director, Dr. Cedric Alexander.
But Sgt. Floyd ignores the name dropping and heads back to his car to write a ticket. There, he meets Krystal Cathcart, another DeKalb Fire and Rescue employee. Once again he hears about Dr. Alexander.
Cathcart asks, "Do we need to call Dr. Alexander?" Sgt. Floyd responds, "Call Dr. Alexander for what?"
What happened next led to Krystal Cathcart filing an official complaint claiming that Sergeant Floyd created "a sense of fear" at the scene, cussed her out twice, telling her to "back the f*** up" or he will throw her in the "back of my squad car."
DeKalb Fire Captain Terrell Davis backed up her written complaint saying Sgt. Floyd was "unprofessional, belligerent and disrespectful."
"If it's true, he's subject to reprimands, any kind of discipline including firing, termination." Bill McKenney, a former police officer and now a lawyer who represents police, looked at the case for us. He says this kind of complaint can be damaging to an officer. "Even if he's not fired, that's going to stay with him. That's part of his history."
But when Krystal Cathcart filed her complaint with Stone Mountain police, she must not have known that Sgt. Davis had a dashboard camera on his car and a body camera on his chest.
You heard the complaint about a threatening, hostile, and cussing officer. But the video tells a much different story.
Krystal Cathcart: "Hi Officer, is there a problem?"
Sgt. Floyd: "How you doing?"
Krystal Cathcart arrived, and just like Captain Davis, she threw out the name of her top commander, Dr. Alexander. She then said she worked with Cpt. Davis and wanted to see what was going on.
Sgt. Floyd asked her to step away from the scene.
Sgt. Floyd: "You can wait over there."
Krystal Cathcart: "Why."
Sgt. Floyd: "Because I asked you to. This traffic stop had nothing to do."
Krystal Cathcart: "I can stand right here."
Sgt. Floyd: "No you cannot stand right there, and it's the last time I'm going to ask you or I'm going to put you in the back of my car."
Krystal Cathcart: "We'll call Dr. Alexander."
Sgt. Floyd: "That's right, call Dr. Alexander, thank you very much."
We showed the video to Bill McKenney. He called Floyd's handling of the roadside stop, "textbook."
McKenney says, "That's standard procedure. Law enforcement doesn't want someone close to them when conducting an investigation for safety reasons."
Stone Mountain police investigated the complaint. They showed the video to Krystal Cathcart and she changed her story, writing "I recant the error of Sgt. Floyd using profanity."
Stone Mountain Police Internal Affairs found Cathcart and Captain Davis "less than truthful in their written and recorded statements."
Stone Mountain Police Chief and the DeKalb Fire chief wouldn't talk to us on camera about the incident.
But Bill McKenney would. He said the officer was lucky the cameras recorded the stop, "Because, it shows that's a false report. It's clear."
Because Filing a false report is a crime, Bill McKenney thinks it could be turned over to the local district attorney for investigation.
DeKalb Fire Chief, D.D. Fullum, in a written statement, says the incident involves Stone Mountain Police but If any other information arises and warrants further attention he will be happy to look into it further.