SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – One day after a Chatham County Special Grand Jury indicted former Sgt. Mike Arango, his attorney says he will fight to prove the officer was “just doing his job.”
“He is absolutely innocent,” says Michael Schiavone. “It is inconceivable that any 12 people would find someone guilty under these circumstances.”
He says he wasn’t surprised his client got indicted Thursday, but that is far from the end of this case.
“A grand jury is just a determination of probable cause,” says Schiavone. “That’s not a finding of guilt or innocence beyond a reasonable doubt.”
Arango was officially indicted on a felony charge of false imprisonment for “violating the personal liberty” of Darryl Faitele. He was also formally charged with a misdemeanor of simple battery for hitting Faitele in the head during a warrant sweep at the Moss Pointe Apartments back in April.
Faitele was not the person the SIS Warrant Squad was searching for.
“Those are not criminal acts,” said Schiavone. “They have the lawful authority to do certain things when they are executing a lawful order of the court.”
The attorney believes an investigation not led by Savannah Police, but the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, which is normal procedure in cases like this, would have determined that.
“I think had there been an outside agency that investigated this, that there would be no recommendation of a criminal case,” said Schiavone. “They would have found that everything done by Officer Arango was done within the discharge of his lawful duties.”
He lays the blame for Arango’s firing and indictment squarely at the feet of Savannah Police Chief Roy Minter.
“It comes from retribution from the chief of police,” said Schiavone. “I think that’s where this case and where responsibility lies. He took advantage of his officers in a number of ways including pushing this case toward the district attorney to place the DA in the position where they had no other choice probably than to present it to a grand jury.”
Because of the COVID-19 case backlog, Arango’s case may not go to trial for more than a year and possibly two.