EXCLUSIVE: GBI investigates Lithonia police, officials 'within' dept. under probe

A day after we reported on guns and evidence taken from the Lithonia Police Department evidence room, investigators believe it was an inside job.

May 24, 3028 

LITHONIA, GA (CBS46) -

A day after we reported on guns and evidence taken from the Lithonia Police Department evidence room, investigators believe it was an inside job. And state law enforcement confirms they have been called in.

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation confirmed to the CBS46 Bulldog exclusively that the interim Lithonia police chief called the Georgia Bureau of Investigation to conduct an investigation into allegations of state code violations by "officials within the police department."

This is the first confirmation that former or current police department officials are under state investigation.

We also learned, exclusively, accusations of missing, misplaced or stolen evidence from the department has been going on for at least five years. And former officers claim retaliation for questioning authority, including raising the issue of missing evidence.

"It is very scary."

Attorney Frank Smith was the Solicitor for the City of Lithonia. He was recently approached by six former officers, who claim unethical or unfair behavior while on the force, or retaliation and firings for questioning authority, including an officer who questioned missing evidence, according to Smith.

"One prior officer talked about being dismissed because of his allegations of stolen guns or missing guns," says Smith.

He says that client has been interviewed by the GBI.

"He said that in going through inventory, there was a number of guns that were supposed to be in inventory that were missing, not knowing whether they were sold [or] destroyed," said Smith. "Once he started to investigate, that's when he started to get push back."

Smith says some of those claims have been heading towards litigation, and the city council got wind of possible legal action around the time the former police chief was dismissed.

The most recent claims of missing evidence fell under the previous chief's tenure.

We attempted to find him for comment but was unsuccessful. We also wanted to question the interim chief, but he isn't allowed to talk to us. No one can answer the million dollar question: will criminal cases be impacted by the missing evidence, and if so, on what scale?

"If a person is accused of having a stolen firearm, then that firearm comes up missing in evidence, then what documentation or evidence do you have to prosecute that person for that crime?" asks Smith, who used to help prosecute for the city.

The DeKalb County district attorney confirms to The Bulldog that they are aware of allegations within the department and are monitoring the situation should charging documents land on their desk.

Copyright 2018 WGCL-TV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.


Read more: http://www.cbs46.com/story/38262841/exclusive-gbi-investigates-lithonia-pd-officials-within-dept-under-probe#ixzz5GR0sOgvU

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