AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – A Richmond County Deputy who got into an altercation with another deputy at a shooting scene is facing charges Wednesday.
Deputy Brandon Keathley was indicted yesterday on charges of aggravated assault on a peace officer. He surrendered today and was released on a signature bond.
Keathley hit Deputy Nicholas Nunes over the head with a flashlight while the two were investigating the shooting death of Deangelo Burns back on February 7th.
At the time, the Sheriff’s Office suspended Keathley for 30 days without pay and made him go to counseling.
Nunes was given a written reprimand and has since left the sheriff’s office.
The Sheriff’s Office released a statement today saying,
Sheriff Roundtree was extremely disappointed to learn that Deputy Brandon Keathley had been criminally indicted via the local news media. At no time was the Sheriff contacted by the District’s Attorney’s Office regarding this highly irregular investigation that has never occurred during his 8 years as Sheriff. One can only speculate as to why the District Attorney chose this path but it could lead some to assume that the Sheriff’s political philosophy may have attributed to this extremely unorthodox approach into a criminal investigation. This incident was investigated per Sheriff’s Office policy through our Internal Affairs Division and both parties involved were disciplined in a manner that the department felt was most appropriate.
Regardless of the inexcusable manner in which this indictment was handled, Deputy Keathley surrendered himself to the Charles B. Webster Detention Center, was processed and released on a signature bond signed by a Judge. Deputy Keathley has been placed on paid Administrative Leave while he exercises his right to defend the indictment. Deputy Keathley’s police powers have been suspended while he goes through this process.
Sheriff Roundtree said, “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.”
District Attorney Natalie Paine also released a statement saying the Sheriff’s accusations are false.
District Attorney Paine’s full statement is below:
As required by Georgia law, the matter of Brandon Keathley was presented to a Grand Jury for review in March of 2020. At that time, the Grand Jury requested that the case be presented for indictment. This fact was both published by the Grand Jury in their March 10, 2020 presentment and publicized by the media. Four days later, the Judicial State of Emergency was declared due to COVID-19, which shut down all Grand Jury proceedings as of March 14, 2020. The State of Emergency was lifted at the end of September and once my office was given the dates that Grand Jury would resume by the Chief Judge we sent a letter to Brandon Keathley. By law, the District Attorney is required to provide a law enforcement officer with 20 days advance notice of any Grand Jury proceeding where their on duty conduct is called into question. Mr. Keathley signed for his receipt of that notice on October 28, 2020. On December 1, 2020, the second Grand Jury was presented with the case.
The Richmond County Grand Jury is comprised of 23 citizens of Richmond County who have the
opportunity to hear all of the evidence in a case before determining whether or not there is probable cause to believe a crime has been committed. It should be noted that two separate Richmond County Grand Juries were presented with the facts of this case. The first recommended an indictment, the second returned one. This so-called “unorthodox approach” was required by the legislature in 2016 when Georgia Law was changed regarding Grand Jury inquiries into law enforcement conduct while on duty. The law regarding notice and procedure was followed to the letter of the law and if the Sheriff disagrees with that process, he should address it with the legislature. 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.
In fact, the case was presented to the first Grand Jury long before the election. The officer received notice regarding the second Grand Jury date prior to the date of the election as well. It was going forward before anyone knew the outcome of the election. The assertion that I would falsely accuse a law enforcement officer for some insignificant act of his employer is simply ridiculous and false.
My oath requires that I uphold the letter of the law without fear, favor or affection, which I have and always will do.
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