May 11th, 2012
By Jodie Fleischer; WSBTv
DECATUR, Ga. —
Channel 2 Action News has learned a DeKalb County police officer is under criminal investigation for allegedly kicking a pregnant woman in the stomach, then charging her with obstruction of a police officer.
Records show the department never investigated the incident and five supervising officers
signed off on the officer’s actions.
“I was upset because I couldn’t believe an officer would kick me, with my child in my stomach,” Raven Dozier told investigative reporter Jodie Fleischer.
Dozier was nearly
nine months pregnant and helping to calm down her brother who was arguing with police. They used a Taser on him, and she cried out.
That’s when Officer Jerad Wheeler used what he described in his report as
“a front push-kick to the abdomen, as he was taught to do at the academy.”
“What kind of a human being kicks a pregnant woman? I mean, forget whether or not it is a police officer that is supposedly protecting people,” Dozier’s attorney Mark Bullman said.
Dozier filed a complaint with the DeKalb police department’s internal affairs unit, but it was never investigated. Instead, four supervisors and an internal affairs detective signed off that
Wheeler’s use of force met policy.
“He was not, he had no reason to do that, and for a higher authority to say that he is
OK, his boss is wrong too,” Dozier said.
Fleischer filed an open records request and found two more use-of-force complaints against Wheeler within the last nine months. In all three cases, the victims were not the focus of the original police incident.
In September 2011, a 53-year-old woman said
Wheeler twisted her arm behind her back and pushed her face down in the patrol car. The woman’s daughter had just been in a car accident and she had gone to the scene to help with her young grandchildren.
In January 2012, a family complained after
Wheeler shot their dog while he was on a chain inside their garage. Wheeler had responded to the wrong address.
In both cases, the department justified Wheeler’s actions and exonerated him.
“It’s showing that there is an ongoing pattern and practice of attempting to clear officers of clearly illegal, unconstitutional, and improper conduct,” Bullman said.
Wheeler charged Dozier with obstruction of an officer.
In his report, he said she was coming toward him in an aggressive manner that it was very dark, she was wearing a large shirt, and he couldn’t tell she was pregnant.
But workers at the DeKalb County Jail recognized it immediately, and refused accept Dozier. She had an emergency C-section two weeks later, and now baby Levi is doing well.
“I believe that something should be done. Men go to jail every day for hitting women and it’s not OK just because he is a police officer,” said Dozier.
“My hope is that with this and other cases, things will change at the DeKalb Police Department, that it is no longer possible for officers to commit felonies against citizens that have committed no crime whatsoever,” Bullman said.
A DeKalb police representative did not want to comment on how the department handled this case.