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Posted: Thursday, May 4th 2006 at 6:55am

DeKalb County police chief resigns

By The Associated Press

DeKalb County Police Chief Louis Graham's resignation came just hours after a fired officer released an audio recording of a profanity-laced conversation between Graham and a top assistant.

His resignation on Wednesday also came a day after the state's top lawyer appointed a special prosecutor to investigate Graham's department.

On the tape, which Graham appears to have accidentally recorded, he and assistant chief, R.P. Flemister, talk about firing another officer. Graham appears to coach a captain on how to question the officer to get him to admit he was wrong in trying to secretly record a conversation, according to The Atlanta-Journal Constitution.

Flemister was placed on paid administrative leave.

The county will conduct a national search for a new police chief. Deputy Chief Nick Marinelli was appointed acting chief.

Vernon Jones, DeKalb County's chief executive officer, continued to support Graham after an earlier incident involving another tape recording. And he stood behind Graham again when the county's district attorney asked a special prosecutor to investigate allegations of misconduct in the Police Department.

But he said Wednesday that he accepted Graham's resignation. However, Jones also said he has asked the Georgia Bureau of Investigation to look into whether any laws were broken with regard to the new recording.

The first recording was made last July by Malik Douglas, an officer who claims he was fired for trying to organize a union.

Douglas later filed a federal lawsuit against Graham and the county, accusing the chief, who is black, of punishing officers who supported a police union and of making racial remarks.

On March 8, another officer, Jimmy Faust, tried to secretly record his meeting with Graham regarding union activity. Graham seized the hidden recorder from Faust and later fired him.

But after Graham took the recorder, it kept running.

On the eight-minute recording, both Graham and Flemister curse and agree that Faust should be fired. At one point, Flemister uses a racial insult toward the white officer.

The department later returned the recorder to Faust, who discovered the taped conversation.

On Tuesday, state Attorney General Thurbert Baker asked for a special investigation on allegations of misconduct. The attorney general's office provided no further details.

The probe came at the request of DeKalb County District Attorney Gwen Keyes Fleming, whose office turned over its files to the attorney general's office.

The resignation ends a controversial tenure for Graham, who became police chief in November 2004.

At a news conference announcing Graham's resignation, Jones declined to discuss the taped comments.

"The police chief is not an issue. He has resigned," Jones said. "He did not want the police department to be distracted, and we are moving forward."

Last year, Graham reopened the case of Wayne Williams, who was convicted of two killings in the early 1980s.

Most of the series of killings known as the Atlanta child murders were considered cleared as a result of the Williams trial because of evidence used in the case, although the victims he was convicted of killing were adults.

Authorities listed 29 victims of the child murders _ all black, mostly boys.

Graham, who knew Williams before the killings, was an assistant police chief in neighboring Fulton County and worked on the task force that investigated the string of murders. Graham never accepted that Williams was responsible for the child killings. But a year later, police appear to have little to show for the investigation.



Associated Categories: State News

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