Sheriff Angry at Arrest of Deputy for Aggravated Assault of a Peace Officer

Richmond County deputy, Brandon Keathley, arrested for aggravated assault on a peace officer
Brandon Keathley

Deputy Assaults Fellow Deputy with Flashlight

(GA) – A deputy was arrested on Wednesday for an incident that happened in February. Deputies Brandon Keathley and Nicholas Nunes, both with the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office, were working a shooting when the assault happened.

No information has been given regarding why Deputy Keathley was so angry with Deputy Nunes. According to the news video, Deputy Nunes was in the process of giving CPR to a 17 year old who had been shot when Keathley struck Nunes on the back of the head, with his duty flashlight, hard enough for stitches and staples to be required. The 17 year old that Deputy Nunes had been working on, died. There has been no information on whether Keathley stopping Nunes from giving CPR was a factor in the young man’s death.

Serious Policy Violations

Like most agencies, the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office has policies established for the agency. The following is in the section on the use of Impact Weapons. As shown in the video the policy states, “May be considered deadly force if strikes are directed to the subjects(sic) head or groin area. A flashlight should not be used as an impact weapon.” Georgia’s criminal code lists the actions of Keathley as an aggravated assault. The Sheriff’s own policy states that what Deputy Keathley did to Deputy Nunes can be considered as the use of deadly force.

Sheriff Roundtree’s Unbelievable Reaction

Yet knowing that Keathley definitely did commit an aggravated assault, and that the assault could have resulted in the death of a fellow officer, it appears that Sheriff Roundtree wanted to handle everything inhouse and was very unhappy that the District Attorney took over the case (which she had every right to do). According to Sheriff  Richard Roundtree, “In my nearly 30 years as a law enforcement professional I have seen justice take on many forms, that is why I am disheartened that some people can only see justice in one dimension and that appears to be criminal justice. I disagree.”

That is an astounding comment to be coming from a sheriff. It’s his job to enforce the law. That’s what he’s supposed to do. The judicial realm (courts) decides what level of punishment should be meted out, if any, for criminal actions. Sheriff Roundtree is acting as if he was given the authority to be, not only law enforcement, but judge and jury too.

It’s obvious that Sheriff Roundtree does not want his officers to have to face repercussions for their actions. Let me stop everyone in their tracks right now. This is not a race issue. Sheriff Roundtree is Black. Both Keathley and Nunes are White and the 17 year old who died was Black. No, it’s not about race. It’s absolutely about law enforcement protecting law enforcement. The incident had been reviewed internally and all Keathley got for his violent actions was a 30-day suspension. Nunes was given a written reprimand but I have no idea what for.

District Attorney Steps In

According to the out-going district attorney, the law was changed in 2016 to include a Citizens Review Board. It was this board that appears to have forwarded the incident on to a Grand Jury. Two Grand Juries ended up reviewing it. One recommended indictment and the other handed down an indictment, which means they were basically in agreement with each other, that Deputy Keathley should be indicted.

District Attorney Natalie Paine responded to one of Sheriff Roundtree’s comments saying, “While it is unfortunate that the Sheriff of Richmond County takes issue with the citizens of Richmond County reviewing the conduct of his officers, it is shameful to suggest that this was politically motivated.” 

Deputy Booked for Aggravated Assault Charges

Sheriff Roundtree finished off his unprofessional behavior by stating that Keathley will be on “paid administrative leave while he exercises his right to defend the indictment.” Deputy Brandon Keathley was charged with Aggravated Assault and Aggravated Assault on a Peace Officer. He was booked into the Charles B. Webster Detention Center where he will continue to earn his law enforcement pay while he waits for his court hearings.

D.A. Paine was absolutely correct in her actions and I sincerely hope that the incoming District Attorney continues to prosecute this case to the full extent of the law just as he would if the defendant was not a law enforcement officer.

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