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(no subject) - bblaise@solokal.com - Solokal Social Media Marketing Mail

Letter to the Editor: Former CPD officer blasts local officials over press conference

(no subject) - bblaise@solokal.com - Solokal Social Media Marketing Mail

I read the article on page three of the December 31 Packet, and saw where our elected officials, Brooks, Karriem, Turner and Mickens, had concerns about the death of Mr. Orlando Guyton. Since any member of law enforcement is not allowed to comment on this article, I felt it necessary to express my concerns also.

Elizabeth Guyton said the family is seeking the “truth” and wants an “outside investigation” into the death of her brother, Orlando Guyton, while in the custody of the Lowndes County Sheriff’s Department. She also hinted at “any legal remedies needed”.

Mr. Brooks, Mr. Karriem, and Mr. Mickens are part of the city and county governments, and know that every death of someone in Law Enforcement custody is investigated very thoroughly by an agency other than the one involved. I don’t think Mr. Turner actually knows that. I’m sure the three told the family that “fact”. If not, they are not doing their job.

Rev. Karriem, with the three wise men (Mickens, Karriem and Brooks) and Mr. Turner looking on, thinks this is time sensitive. Does he mean we have to get the goods while the getting is good? The truth can’t wait until all the film at the jail is reviewed and all the medical results come back? That takes time. He made the comment “…given the wake of community-police (law enforcement) relations all around the country”. The only thing his statement does is foster a false impression of law enforcement around the country. (Without knowing all the facts, I believe the police acted stupidly.)

If the family really wants all the facts, let’s put all of them out there. How many times was Orlando Guyton arrested? What was the severity of the charges? How many times was he convicted? How much jail time did he actually serve? How many times did he fail to appear for court on those charges? Release his medical records so we can see if he actually had a previous heart condition. Had he received treatment for any drug, alcohol or mental conditions? Was he violent before and fought with police or anyone else? (I already know the answer to this one because I was in law enforcement in Columbus, and had personal dealings with the man) Why no mention by the family that he was in the process of committing a home invasion when he was caught this time? And Mr. Mickens, Mr. Brooks, Mr. Karriem, and Mr. Turner, where is the concern for the terrified people who were in the apartment at the time of that invasion? You made no mention of them and their condition. What has the family done in the past to keep Mr. Guyton from committing more crimes or get the help he needed for any drug or mental problems he may have had? These are just some of the facts that need to be addressed if a “complete and impartial” investigation by an “outside source” is truly complete.

Now here are my concerns: I’m concerned that our elected officials presented no evidence to support a claim that something mysterious happened to Mr. Guyton, yet they went public with their claim anyway. I’m concerned that a current city councilman has made the statement on the radio that “…now that we are in charge, things are going to be different”. What did he mean by “…we are in charge?” What things are going to be different? Perhaps he can explain.

I’m concerned that there so many people with long arrest records still out on the streets? From my time with the Columbus PD I personally know of at least twenty people who have over thirty arrest, some as many as fifty, and many of those were for assault, aggravated assault, domestic assault, felony theft, and fighting with police. About half of those currently have arrest warrants out for them for “failure to appear.” Even when the police do find them they are able to bond out again. I guess this time they really, really promise to come to court. Why does our court system keep putting them back on the street?

I’m concerned that false accusations were made against the Columbus PD and the Lowndes County Sheriff’s department by a current city councilman saying a woman was beaten, and said on the radio that “…now they’re coming after our women.” What did he mean by “our women?” No apology was given when the “facts” came out and the record was never set straight. The woman he claimed was beaten said the officers threw body slammed her, choked her, kicked her, beat her, and then when she got to the jail all the jailers did the same thing. That councilman made an official complaint to Chief Selvain McQueen about “…the police beating someone’s grandmother.” The woman was invited on a local radio station run by Councilman Karriem and his brothers, and repeated the accusations. The facts of the case were that many witnesses saw the incident, and the officers acted correctly. The woman had no marks on her body to support her claims, and she had been in several other situations where she became hysterical. I personally had her come at me with a knife while in a hysterical state and on drugs and/or alcohol. She was covered in her own blood, but I managed to subdue her at great risk to my well being, not only from the knife, but from her blood. I didn’t shoot her, but I would have been justified in doing so.

I’m concerned that the Mr. Brooks, Mr. Karriem, Mr. Turner, and Mr. Mickens do not support their law enforcement agencies. They do not know all the facts yet, but the facts that they do know indicate that Mr. Guyton had a heart attack. Why the insinuation that someone did something wrong in law enforcement?

I’m concerned that once the family gets the independent autopsy and drug test results, they will not release them. Let us see “all the facts”. I’m concerned that the family will never accept “the truth”. The reference to” any legal remedies needed” shows their true intent in my mind. What about legal remedies against the family for all of Mr. Guyton’s victims? Apparently the family didn’t do enough to ensure their loved one got the help he needed.

I’m concerned that Mr. Brooks, Mr. Karriem, Mr. Turner and Mr. Mickens are not making similar shows of support by holding a news conference about all the killings and shootings going on, and demanding that the establishments where most of these crimes occur are shut down. On Friday and Saturday nights, around closing time, if I was on duty I would start heading toward the establishment closest to my beat because the call of a fight or disturbance was coming soon.

When will that stop? What are they doing about it? Review the 911 records and see how many times officers respond to a “shots fired” call in a year. (Just heard there was another killing this week at one of these establishments) I’m concerned for the safety of my friends on the Columbus Police Department, and the Lowndes County Sheriff’s Office, because the mood of relations that Rev. Karriem hinted at, and is encouraging, makes some of the criminal element in Columbus feel it is a good time to “give pigs wings.”

What really concerns me is that the PD officers were told by their leadership that if they shoot and kill someone their careers will be over. No mention of if it is a proper shooting. If an officer hesitates to shoot someone because of that statement, and ends up getting killed, will our elected officials and Chief of Police take responsibility? Don’t hold your breath.

I’m concerned for the safety of all of Columbus residents when these repeat offenders think nothing of driving 100 miles per hour on the city streets in order to keep from having to bond out of jail again.

Let’s find the truth. Let’s get all the facts. Let’s put them out there for everyone to see. Let’s have our elected officials support our law enforcement officers. Let them get all the facts before they make a public showing of it. And most of all, let’s accept the truth when we find it, and not continue arguing supported by emotion alone.

Gregory Harstad

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