December 8, 2022

Jacques Battiste
Glynn County Police Chief Jacques Battiste announced his resignation on Dec. 5, 2022, after a tenure where he attempted reforms for the scandal-ridden department. (Screenshot, Glynn County) Credit: (Screenshot, Glynn County)

Why did Glynn County’s police chief resign?

Jacques Battiste had a tall order after being hired to serve as Glynn County Police chief last year.

He inherited a department infamous for clearing the men who murdered Ahmaud Arbery. Battiste also took over for a chief who was indicted by a grand jury for allegedly failing to investigate misconduct. Glynn County officials tasked Battiste, the department’s first Black chief, with instituting reforms and getting the department re-accredited. 

But after 18 months of attempting to revamp the department, Battiste decided to step down this week. In an interview with The Current’s Jake Shore, Battiste said he was “tired of being beaten up every day, internally and externally, for what I’m trying to accomplish.”

Battiste said he had a hard road as well, forced to go through Georgia’s police academy with 22-year-old recruits after the state law enforcement council said his Louisiana policing credentials wouldn’t be valid in Georgia. 

Battiste said he got an offer he couldn’t turn down with a Pennsylvania-based non-profit that works “in conjunction with the FBI,” called FBI-LEEDA (it is not a part of the FBI).

Glynn County Manager Bill Fallon said he felt Battiste did not have enough management experience – running a police department – and will look for that in the next chief. 

“It’s a difficult job being chief of police,” Fallon said. “He certainly was passionate. I think there’s a lot of forward motion (at the department).”

Daniel Defense CEO Marty Daniel testifies via video to Congressional panel. Credit: Screenshot via YouTube

Daniel of Daniel Defense fires back

The founder and CEO of Bryan County-based gunmaker Daniel Defense released an extraordinary statement responding to a lawsuit brought by the mother of a mass shooting victim. 

Sandra Torres’ lawsuit filed last month was on behalf of 10-year-old Eliahna Torres killed at a Uvalde, Texas elementary school along with 18 other children in May 2022. The shooter used a Daniel Defense rifle. The suit accuses Daniel Defense of breaking Federal Trade Commission law for its marketing tactics, which rely on social media, appeals invoking the military, and collaborations with popular video game Call of Duty to woo young men like the shooter to buy rifles, the suit alleges.

“This lawsuit is yet another in a growing line of blatant and legally unfounded attempts to bankrupt the firearms industry,” Marty Daniel wrote in a statement posted to Twitter on Dec. 2. 

Daniel blamed “gun-grabber Michael Bloomberg,” the former New York City mayor, and Everytown for Gun Safety for bringing a “frivolous lawsuit” that blames the company, and not the shooter, for the mass killing. 

Context: Bloomberg started a group “Mayors Against Illegal Guns” in 2006, which coalesced with other gun violence prevention groups to form Everytown for Gun Safety in 2014, according to their website. Everytown Law is the legal organization affiliated with the group and brought the lawsuit representing Sandra Torres in Texas. 

“We reject and will vigorously defend against these politically motivated attempts to blame Daniel Defense for the criminal actions of others, as well as to undermine your means of self-defense secured by the Second Amendment,” Daniel wrote. 

You can read his whole statement here.

Screenshot Latoya James shooting
Screenshot from the only body camera footage available from the Camden County botched raid where Latoya James was killed. (GBI) Credit: GBI

Update in Latoya James case

Camden County Sheriff Jim Proctor says he shouldn’t be held liable for the May 2021 shooting resulting in the death of Latoya James, according to court filings. 

He faces civil litigation after James’ family sued this summer and alleged Proctor failed to train his deputies, properly investigate the incident, and that he encouraged a “code of silence” among deputies, according to the suit. 

An unarmed James was killed in a gunfire exchange on May 4, 2021, at 5 a.m., after deputies burst into the home of her cousin to serve a search warrant. The district attorney cleared the deputies after the incident and is prosecuting James’ cousin instead. While the lawsuit says the deputies’ bullets killed James, the sheriff’s office and district attorney have only ever said she died during the “exchange” of gunfire.

An Atlanta-based attorney for Proctor, Sun Choy, said there isn’t enough evidence to show Sheriff Proctor purposefully allowed this behavior to go on, resulting in James’ death. He also said Proctor is immune from prosecution under “qualified immunity.”

They haven’t shown evidence “Sheriff Proctor knew that a need to train or supervise his employees existed but made a deliberate choice not to take any action,” Choy wrote in a Nov. 29 filing. 

The killing has brought comparisons to Breonna Taylor, a Black medical worker killed by police in Louisville, Ky. who were serving a no-knock warrant. 

Proctor has been under fire since a video went viral last month of his agency’s deputies beating an inmate in the Camden County jail. Three deputies have since been fired and charged in the incident.  

In the meantime, Proctor’s lawyer also requested U.S. District Judge Lisa G. Wood block James’ family’s lawyers from obtaining evidence (a process called “discovery”) from the sheriff’s office until the judge decides on whether to dismiss the lawsuit.

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Jake Shore

Jake Shore covers public safety and the courts system in Savannah and Coastal Georgia. He is also a Report for America corps member. Prior to joining The Current, Jake worked as a senior writer for the...