Parent: investigation into troubled Clayton school cops 'turned my stomach'

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One Clayton County parent says a FOX 5 I-Team investigation into their school police department "turned my stomach."

The investigation revealed Clayton County had the highest percentage of cops with troubled work histories than any major metro school district.          

In light of last month's school shooting in Parkland, Florida, the FOX 5 I-Team examined the work backgrounds of more than 300 metro school police officers. They're under even more pressure now to keep our children safe.

Clayton's percentage was by far the highest: nearly one third of the 50-person police force had either been fired from a previous law enforcement department or resigned before they could be fired. Parents like Isioma Obata can't fathom such numbers.

"You all knowingly know these officers have bad backgrounds and ya'll are still letting them in the schools with these kids?" she wondered.

Officers like Freddie Davis. According to his official work profile with the Peace Officers Standards and Training Council (POST), in 2012 Davis quit the DeKalb County police department in lieu of termination after admitting he had sex on duty in his patrol car. He later got in trouble as a Douglasville police officer after multiple girls or young women complained he was flirting with them on duty, Derek and Valerie Wainwright telling investigators Davis followed their daughter in his patrol car as she headed home from her fast food job.

"We're talking about a 16-year-old girl," pointed out her father, still angry about the incident. "This is a grown man."

According to the Internal Affairs report, Davis admitted telling another woman he admired her lips and "said he would like to kiss her." Yet the day after he resigned from Douglasville last August, Clayton County schools hired Freddie Davis and made him a sergeant.

"I don't see how they allow that," protested Thellis Adkins who has several grandchildren in Clayton County schools. "It's not right. That's just foolishness to me."

Ms. Obata has one special needs child in school with another child a few years away. She's still upset about the county hiring Davis.

"The one about the officer wanting to kiss the girl's lips?" she recalled. "That was disgusting. That really made me mad. Like, it just turned my stomach."

Davis was fired from the school district the same day the FOX 5 I-Team began asking questions about the police force. The school district called the timing "incidental" and not related to our report.

Clayton County also hired Ernest Mitchell, a cop whose POST record shows he had been fired from one job and quit before he could be fired from two other police departments. He was arrested on road rage allegations in 2013, the victim complaining to state troopers Mitchell waved a gun at him. The Coweta County solicitor tells the FOX 5 I-Team the charges were dropped because the victim could not come back to Georgia to testify, and it was unclear in which county the incident happened.             

Clayton County also hired Joshua Goss who, according to POST, quit instead of being fired from MARTA after he was accused of pretending to be three different people -- all women -- including a Gwinnett police officer. The state wants to revoke his certification to be a cop.

Just as troubling, parents told us, is the fact that the school superintendent would not explain why these officers were hired in the first place, including two of them hired on his watch. Dr. Morcease Beasley says he doesn't comment on personnel issues.

But according to the officer's personnel file, in some cases the county did not do a thorough background check. Ernest Mitchell explained the road rage incident had "since been dismissed and expunged" when he applied for the school job. There's no evidence in his file that anyone contacted the Coweta County solicitor to learn the charges had been dropped because the victim could not appear.

And in Freddie Davis' case, police chief Thomas Trawick told internal affairs investigators he thought Davis had gotten in trouble in DeKalb County for an excessive force incident, not for having sex in his patrol car.

When asked by investigators whether he know of any sexual misconduct allegations from Davis' past employers, Chief Trawick said "I'm not aware of any."

That's not a good enough explanation for parents like Obata.

"Even volunteers for a school have to do a background check," she pointed out. "So why wouldn't you check for yourself and not just 'take his word?' That's crazy to me."

At a series of community forums, Superintendent Beasley was asked by one parent why he wouldn't talk about the cops mentioned in our investigation.

"When I make a decision not to respond, that doesn't mean we're not taking action," he replied.

Chief Trawick wouldn't give us any answers either when we tried talking to him at the end of one of those community meetings.

FOX 5 I-Team: "You couldn't tell us if you knew these folks had checkered histories before you hired them?"

Trawick: "I'm not going to discuss personnel matters, ok? It would be most appropriate for me not to discuss personnel matters, but I thank you for your inquiry. And you have a good evening."

FOX 5 I-Team: "Just want to make sure you have a chance to respond chief because it was on your watch that these folks were hired."

Trawick:  "All right. Thanks a lot, sir."

A response that clearly isn't enough.

"If we want answers, we should get those answers," argued Obani. "And for you to not answer it makes it seem like you're trying to hide something. What are you hiding?"