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GBI investigates officers ' use of force

WARRENTON, Ga. -- Agents with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation have questioned at least two police officers in connection with a recent disturbance that injured an officer and led to the arrests of two women in Warrenton.

The probe by the state law enforcement agency was requested by the Toombs Judicial Circuit District Attorney's Office, according to Gary Nicholson, special agent in-charge of the GBI Region 7 Office in Thomson.

"This office was requested by the district attorney's office to look into whether appropriate or excessive force was used in this incident," Agent Nicholson told The McDuffie Mirror .

Already, Special Agents Joe Brown and Woody Boyd have interviewed two officers with the Warrenton Police Department, who were on-duty during the incident that is under investigation. The officers are identified as Sgt. J.J. Cooper and Officer Greg Black, police records indicate. Both officers were interviewed last week.

Warrenton Police Chief Jim McClain contends his officers acted appropriately in using force on the two women who were taken into custody, following a disturbance in the Meadow Circle neighborhood in Warrenton which occurred shortly after 12 a.m. on Sunday, April 18.

"In my opinion, they (police officers) used the force necessary to make the arrests," Chief McClain said.

Agent Nicholson said when their portion of the inquiry has been completed, he will turn the case file over to the district attorney's office for review.

He could not say how long it might be before interviews might be completed with all parties.

"Everything we do regarding this matter will be turned over to the district attorney's office," Agent Nicholson said.

The incident led to two women having criminal charges filed against them. They were identified as Tyiesha Tanksley, 28 and Jennifer S. Grant, both of Warrenton addresses, according to police and jail records. Ms. Grant was charged with two counts of aggravated assault against a police officer, two counts of obstruction against a law enforcement officer and one count of interference with government property stemming from her reportedly having kicked out the window of a patrol car belonging to the Warren County Sheriff's Department. Ms. Tanksley was charged with one count of aggravated assault against a police officer and two counts of obstruction against a law enforcement officer.

Ms. Grant was released from jail on $21,000 bail April 21, while Ms. Tanksley was freed on $20,000 bail April 22, a jail spokeswoman said on Monday.

Following their arrests, the suspects were taken to the McDuffie County Law Enforcement where they were jailed in Thomson. They since have been released on bail.

Police also took a 19-year-old Thomson man into custody at the same time for "investigative hold" purposes. He later was released without any charges being filed against him, a jail spokeswoman said.

Sgt.Cooper received what was described as a "long gash" to the top of his head and marks to his nose, indicated that he believed he struck from behind by someone using a brick. During a scuffle that broke out between the female suspects and police.

Officers reportedly used tazer weapons to subdue the women. Other than Ms. Tanksley complaining of stomach pain from where she had been tazed, there was no mention of any other injuries, according to police reports.

Chief McClain said in a note attached to a supplemental report: "All of this started when four or five guys from Norwood jumped on two guys from Thomson at a party on Meadow Circle. The guys from Thomson left the area only to return a short time later in two vans. I got the young men from Thomson to come to the office for an interview. They said that they had returned to get some shoes. I concluded that this was not entirely the truth because when they left my office, they did not go back to the area for their shoes. My conclusion is that they had returned for revenge due to Ms. Tanksley saying that the boys from Thomson had said that they were coming back and shoot into the crowd on Meadow Circle. She blurted that statement out to me while I was talking with her earlier. This case is sill active."

Web posted on Thursday, April 29, 2010

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