LAMAR COUNTY, Ga. - Concerned citizens, clergy, and politicians met privately with Lamar County Sheriff Brad White on Tuesday to discuss the controversial actions of one of his deputies, Sgt. Shannon Williamson, during an arrest on May 30. Sergeant Williamson was caught on camera kicking a suspect during an arrest in Barnesville.
"We expressed that there need to be changes, because we just do not believe a forceful kick is necessary," said Pastor James Marable.
Sgt. Williamson was cleared and returned to duty following an internal investigation. Officials found he did not violate department policy.
"He saw two officers fighting on the ground. He saw something silver in his hand, which he was one handcuff on at the time, he thought was a weapon," explained Sheriff White.
Sheriff White showed the group an extended version of the video, which captured the altercation between deputies and the suspect, Caweisi Lavelle, who was wanted on an outstanding warrant.
"I wanted them to get the whole picture, that my deputies were out there fighting with a guy who was resisting, two deputies wrestling around with him for a minute and 45 seconds before any back up arrived," the sheriff said.
Pastor Marable and others who viewed the video believe it was a clear use of excessive force.
"We in no way condone the actions of Mr. Lavelle. You should not resist or obstruct the arrest process, however, we expressed our view that we felt the kick was an unnecessary use of force," Marable explained.
Sheriff White understands community members' concerns. He promises a full review of department policy and retraining of deputies in the proper use of force.
"The kick, I think we all agreed on, shouldn't have happened. The internal investigation depicted that, said the deputy had other options that were available with the backup that was there," the sheriff said.