Sutton May Have Been Flagged Under Discipline Policy | News
The Macon Police Department's "early warning list" of staff with repeated disciplinary issues would have included Officer Clayton Sutton before the shooting at the Kroger supermarket, according to official police policy documents reviewed by 13WMAZ.
According to the written policy, an officer is placed on Early Warning whenever he or she accumulates at least four disciplinary issues within a six-month period, regardless of whether they are upheld.
Based on Sutton's record, Macon police protocol would have made him eligible for so-called Early Warning status after complaints about him in April, June, July and August of 2012.
Sutton fatally shot 49-year old Sammie Davis, Jr. on December 21 in the parking lot outside the Kroger on Pio Nono Avenue.
13WMAZ filed an open-records request for the current Macon police protocol in handling multiple complaints against an officer, after the police department would not provide it voluntarily.
The Macon police handbook shows that the department has an "early warning system" aimed at identifying and helping officers who show signs of "performance and/or stress related problems."
That is essentially a heads-up to supervisors to keep an eye out for an officer's demeanor and conduct, and make Chief Mike Burns aware of the situation.
According to his history, Sutton would have been flagged under current policy, by our count, four separate times during his service on Macon police. The first time would have been in 2008, when he was on the force less than two years.
Another trigger would have been in 2010 when Sutton had seven complaints in his file within four-and-a-half months.
That set of complaints included allegations of excessive force, wrongful arrest, a "bad attitude," and racial profiling during a traffic stop.
Sutton was reprimanded for the excessive force complaint; the racial-profiling allegation was not upheld.
In 2011, Sutton received five more complaints within a three-month period, and in 2012, four complaints within six months.
After receiving the police documents, we asked police spokeswoman Jami Gaudet how long the current "early warning" policy has been in effect.
She said the police handbook is updated yearly and did know how long this particular policy has been in effect.
As we previously reported, Georgia has no statewide standard for police discipline. Each department has its own policy.
According to Macon Police internal affairs, there is no set number of complaints for which an officer must be terminated. The power to terminate an officer rests with Chief Burns.
New Phase in GBI Probe
Meanwhile, the GBI says it has begun re-interviewing witnesses to the Davis shooting already questioned by the Police Department.
The GBI is also looking for additional witnesses, by checking police-cruiser video and store-surveillance video, according to Rodney Wall, special agent-in-charge at the Georgia Bureau of Investigation's Perry office.
He says the decision to look for additional witnesses follows the GBI's criteria for handling officer-shooting cases. He said they want to be able to "fill in the gaps."
Wall says there is no specific timetable for this part of the investigation.
After reviewing the Macon police file on the shooting, District Attorney David Cooke turned the investigation over to the GBI.
Officer Sutton is on paid administrative leave. That's standard practice when an officer is involved in a shooting.
Asked whether the GBI will interview Sutton, Wall says they probably will but have not yet reached that stage.
13WMAZ has been unable to reach Sutton for comment.
Macon police say Sutton went to the shooting scene after a request for police assistance. Police have said Sutton shot Davis after they struggled.
According to an incident report, Sutton told another officer he had been "cut." He was seen bleeding from his neck on the right side.
After the shooting, the report says, police searched Davis but did not find a weapon.