Officials: 2 Georgia officers fired, could face charges

Two police officers in Georgia who used force to detain the wrong person during a search for a suspect have been fired and could face criminal charges, authorities said.

Savannah’s mayor and police head condemned the encounter that led to the termination of Savannah police Cpl. Daniel Kang and Sgt. Octavio Arango in a news conference Wednesday.

Both officers were fired last month for the incident that happened in April while they were searching for a suspect at an apartment complex in Savannah, the police department said in a news release.

“The conduct of two members of the Savannah Police Department during this incident were totally unacceptable, egregious behavior,” Savannah Police Chief Roy Minter said during the news conference. 

The person who was wrongly detained was placed in custody, but not charged, Minter added.

Kang and Arango notified a supervisor about their use of force in April. A review of the body camera video, and an internal investigation that followed found that the officers had violated several department policies, police said.

Savannah Mayor Van Johnson, who viewed the body camera footage, said he was “horrified” by what he saw. The footage was also “sufficiently concerning” enough that the case will be presented before a grand jury for criminal consideration next month, said Chatham County District Attorney Meg Heap.

Kang and Arango were placed on administrative leave before their termination on July 30. The officers appealed their firing to a city manager, who chose to uphold the decision.

Johnson referenced an earlier promise he made to residents amid the national protests against racism and police brutality following the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police.

“I meant what I said on that hot day at the end of May, that it was going to be a new day in Savannah, that Black lives matter, that everyone’s lives matter,” Johnson said. “We’re going to support our police department, but yet, we are going to be committed that individuals who do bad things, who don’t respect, serve and protect, will no longer be members of our police department.”