Two Brooklet police officers suspended without pay last month were reprimanded for taking a memory card from a trail camera on private property, as well as other possible violations on which city officials would not elaborate, citing ongoing investigations.
Former Brooklet police Sgt. John Baker told the Statesboro Herald Tuesday the officers were acting at his direction after a resident complained of the cameras, suspecting children were being filmed.
Copies of letters to officers Charles Dutton and Melissa “Lee” Rogers, who were “suspended without pay” after councilmen held a special called meeting, stated the officers were suspended due to violating policy regarding “misconduct” and “conduct on or off the job unbecoming to a City of Brooklet employee, which brings discredit to the City of Brooklet.”
The letters stated Rogers and Dutton violated code of ethics, standards of conduct, violation of law, obeying lawful orders of superiors, and on- and off-duty conduct regarding removal of a memory card from a trail camera on private property.
Rogers did not sign for receipt of the letter, stating that she would speak to her attorney first, according to handwritten notes on the document.
Neither Rogers nor Dutton were immediately available for comment.
Dutton was already on probation stemming from an incident earlier this year, involving off-duty encounters with a woman over children in another car not being belted. The woman posted on social media videos of her encounter with Baker and Dutton, and later with former Brooklet police Chief Doug Meyer. The videos went viral, resulting eventually in Baker’s termination and Meyer’s allegedly forced retirement and resignation.
Baker told the Statesboro Herald Tuesday that the cameras were installed by a woman who accused him of sexual assault in 2017. That case, which was investigated by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, was ruled closed by GBI agents and Ogeechee Judicial Circuit District Attorney Richard Mallard. Mallard told a Statesboro Herald reporter earlier this year the case is closed, due to lack of evidence a crime occurred, and no action was taken.
Baker said Tuesday body cam videos of his encounter with the woman, who will not yet be identified and was unreachable for comment, is part of the investigation record. The Herald has submitted a records request to include body cam video of Baker’s interview with the woman in the hospital emergency room.
According to Baker, the initial call to the woman’s house, within walking distance from his own, took place in March 2017. He was off duty but responded in plain clothes, as the initial call broadcast over police radio mentioned a possible gunshot wound.
He said he went home, changed into his uniform and badge, then met with the woman at the emergency room, with a body cam in operation. He said he took a blood alcohol reading of .400 from the woman and asked hospital staff to take a blood sample as well. A shot had been fired into a door inside the home but no one was injured, he said.
He also said the memory card included photos of him at a friend’s house a few doors down and said allegations he was “stalking and staking out” the woman who accused him are untrue. Baker said he was seen in the area of his and the woman’s home as he patrolled, responding to complaints of speeders.
Baker said the entire interview at the hospital was recorded.
Brooklet Police Department currently has two officers — interim Chief Lee Craft and Officer Nash Rigdon, said police clerk Mary Renteria. Usually the department has four or more officers.
Herald reporter Holli Deal Saxon may be reached at (912) 489-9414.