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GBI investigating allegations of assault on inmate by TPD officer

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation is looking into allegations that an officer with the Thomson Police Department recently assaulted a federal inmate being held at the McDuffie County Law Enforcement Center, The McDuffie Mirror has learned.

Gary Nicholson, special agent in-charge of the GBI Region 7 Office in Thomson, confirmed on Monday that his office has launched a formal investigation. GBI Special Agent Steve Foster has been assigned to the case.

Contacted at his office Monday afternoon, Thomson Police Chief John Hathaway said he was not aware that the GBI had opened a case or were looking at one of his officers as being the target of the probe.

The name of the police officer has not been disclosed, because interviews still are being conducted at this time, according to Agent Nicholson.

"A number of persons have been interviewed at this time, but there are still others to be interviewed," he said.

Agent Nicholson said his office received a letter recently - similar to one received by The McDuffie Mirror - indicating that Wycliffee Capps had been physically assaulted by an officer with the Thomson Police Department. At the time, Mr. Capps, a federal inmate, was being held there on unspecified charges.

Mr. Capps reportedly was assaulted by the police officer in October following "a shakedown" at the jail that involved both deputies of the McDuffie County Sheriff's Department and officers with the Thomson Police Department. The inmate reportedly told his uncle, Bill Cashin, of Augusta about the alleged incident which is what prompted Mr. Cashin's letters to the GBI and the newspaper.

The inmate reportedly told his uncle that he was awakened by an officer with the Thomson Police Department about 6:15 a.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 23. Mr. Capps reportedly told his uncle that the officer ordered him to strip and bend over. It is alleged that the officer grabbed Mr. Capps' private parts and "squeezed until Mr. Capps pleaded for him to stop," according to the letter received from the inmate's uncle.

Agent Nicholson said after receiving the letter, he notified McDuffie County Sheriff Logan Marshall and that after he read the letter that he requested the GBI begin a probe.

"We're shooting for the truth here," Agent Nicholson said.

At the time of the shakedown, deputies and police officers were searching for illegal contraband reportedly in the possession of inmates, according to McDuffie County Sheriff's Department Major Ronnie Williamson.

Mr. Capps since has been sentenced in U.S. Federal Court in Augusta, according to GBI Special Agent Pat Morgan.

Web posted on Thursday, December 11, 2008

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