Fort Gaines citizens voice concerns over what they call "police - Local news, weather, sports Savannah | WSAV On Your Side

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Fort Gaines citizens voice concerns over what they call "police brutality"

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FORT GAINES, Ga. - The Fort Gaines, Ga. police chief and Clay County sheriff met with residents Monday evening to discuss a recent incident of what locals call "police brutality" after authorities arrested a teen as a suspect in a church break-in. The police chief says there's more to the story.

People watched as police tried to subdue Don Bolden the night of Jan. 10. A video shows the police officers kneeing him as he lays on the ground moaning and yelling expletives.
After seven minutes of dragging and pulling, multiple police officers were able to get the teen into a patrol car and take him away.

Police Chief Sam Starling says the teen's struggle in the video negates any argument of police brutality, whether he was guilty of breaking into a church or not, but Bolden's family was incensed at the town hall meeting when Starling wasn't able to answer specific questions about the teen due to the ongoing investigation.


Bolden's mother Tonjela Jackson says, "I'm still trying to connect the dots myself, piecing it together, but once he comes home I'll really know, when I talk to my son."

"The public ain't be being patient with the case," says Chief Starling. "They ain't being patient with the GBI, giving due process a chance to run its course."

But Bolden's mother says the police went too far that night. "I think they used too much force on my son with the tazering and the kicking in the head and in the body," she says, "and I don't think that was right, and he was in handcuffs and shackles. It's not right. They have messed him up. They have traumatized him."

Bolden has remained in jail since he was arrested in January. He faces multiple counts of Obstruction of Justice and Damage to Government Property along with the charge for Criminal Damage to the church.

Chief Starling says he has nothing to hide in the case, however, and says the GBI investigation will clear up any misconceptions. "I think it's something else going on with this young man," he says. "I won't comment on because I think it was abnormal what was going on that night with him. It wasn't a normal young man that I grew up around here knowing over the years."

Starling is also conducting his own investigation in the wake of the GBI.

Other members of the community voiced their support for the police department at the town hall meeting. It was over after about 30 minutes once citizens learned they wouldn't be able to talk more about the Bolden case.

Jessi Mitchell

Jessi joined the WRBL news team in October 2012 after working as a freelance production assistant for MTV Networks in Los Angeles.
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