After a special called meeting and executive session of the Brooklet Town Council exceeding two hours Thursday, Brooklet Police Chief Doug Meyer said he would retire and resigned his position, effective Feb. 9.
Meyer was not immediately available for comment after Brooklet City Clerk Angela Wirth announced his decision to retire, but Brooklet Mayor William Hendrix said the executive session Thursday morning was “partially” due to a video posted on Facebook showing Meyer in a noisy confrontation with a woman who was trying to lodge a complaint against another officer.
Hendrix said he could not comment about whether Meyer was asked to resign. He said he would be able to speak about that “after next Thursday (Feb. 8) when we have our next (Brooklet Town Council) meeting.” Meyer’s resignation becomes effective Feb. 9, according to a brief statement released by Wirth.
Two videos posted by Brooklet resident Cindy Bodaford Lee drew numerous reposts and comments. The first video showed Lee’s confrontation Tuesday with Brooklet police officers John Baker and Charles Dutton. The second shows a volatile confrontation Wednesday between Meyer and Lee in the Brooklet City Hall, where she had gone to file a complaint against Baker and Dutton.
The first video came after Baker pulled Lee over. Lee had met a teenage driver at a convenience store to pick up two young relatives who had missed their school bus. Another teenage relative had arranged to pick the juveniles up and transport them to meet Lee, she told the Statesboro Herald.
Apparently the teenage driver did not have the juveniles in a car seat, and Dutton, off duty but wearing a badge on his belt, confronted the driver. When Lee explained she was picking the children up and had car seats in her own car, more words were exchanged between her and Dutton, who used profanity in addressing a teenager in the other car, she said.
“He was just a regular guy in a truck, snatching at their door and yelling at the kids,” she said, adding she was unaware he was a police officer at first as he was not wearing a uniform. Not wanting to continue the confrontation. Lee left the store, but was pulled over by Baker, who was on duty.
The video shows both Baker and Lee speaking in angry tones. Baker states he pulled her over for “copping an attitude” with the off duty officer and threatened to arrest her if she pulled away. Lee asked him whether she was getting a ticket and said she was leaving if he was not issuing a ticket. The video, recorded by Lee’s cell phone ended with Baker saying “I suggest you get a car seat for the children when they are in the other car.”
In the second video, also recorded by Lee’s cell phone, the video starts out as blank but with an audio recording of Meyer and Lee, because Lee had her phone in her pocket. Meyer is heard telling Lee he is recording the conversation because of what she had posted earlier – the video of the altercation with Baker, and her comments about how she felt being treated that way.
“We’re on video right now and I am going to record everything that ever happens with you again because of what you decided to put out on the streets,” Meyer is heard saying.
Lee is heard dismissing the chief, asking someone else (a clerk) for a councilman’s number, claiming she wished to speak to him because she felt Meyer would cover for his officers.
The recording becomes visual when Lee removes her phone from her pocket, and Meyer is seen and heard ordering her to leave the building. Before the recording became visual, Lee is heard repeatedly telling Meyer “do not touch me” and Meyer yelling “leave the building. Do it now, lady.” He threatens to charge her with criminal trespass if she does not leave.
He also loudly tells her “in the future we will not have any mercy or toleration for y’all’s constant breaking of the law and blaming it on police officers.”
As she does leave, Lee is heard saying she has an appointment with news media. Meyer replies “Knock your lights out, lady.”
Calls and messages seeking comment from Meyer were not immediately returned Thursday.
Lee said Thursday she had contacted an attorney and plans to file an official complaint, but was afraid to return to the city hall to hand over complaint paperwork.
“I have heard of people being arrested for filing complaints against the officers,” she said.
Statesboro attorney Keith Barber told the Statesboro Herald Thursday he represents Lee regarding the matter of allegedly inappropriate behavior by Baker, Dutton and Meyer.
Before becoming Brooklet’s police chief in January 2015, Meyer worked with various law enforcement agencies in Texas and Tennessee, including the state drug task force in Tennessee.
In 1999, he moved to Georgia after a law enforcement friend was murdered, and he took his friend’s place with the Villa Rica Police Department as a captain with the Interstate Crime unit.
Then he began work with the Carroll County Sheriff’s Office in a similar capacity, where he remained for 14 years while he continued furthering his education.
He also worked with Homeland Security’s gang unit as a detached Carroll County sheriff’s deputy and spent a year as an agent with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.
Wirth stated Meyer has worked in law enforcement for 39 years. “The Mayor and Council have accepted his retirement notice and wish him well.”
However, Hendrix said further discussion about the matter is expected Thursday and that he can speak more freely about the situation then. “The ball is in (Meyer’s) court,” he said.
Neither Baker nor Dutton were discussed during the special called executive session, he said.
Herald reporter Holli Deal Saxon may be reached at (912) 489-9414.