Crawford County investigator charged after use of force investigation

A Crawford County sheriff’s department investigator was arrested Wednesday stemming from an investigation into his use of force during an incident last month.

Dennis Ballard, of Crawford County, was arrested and charged him with Aggravated Assault and Violation of Oath of Office. Ballard is an investigator with the Crawford County Sheriff’s Office and had been on administrative leave during a use of force investigation conducted by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.

Ballard was booked into the Crawford County Jail.

The GBI was asked by Crawford County Sheriff Lewis Walker to conduct a use of force investigation after an incident involving Ballard — assigned to work narcotics — that occurred on March 16.

According to the GBI, the preliminary investigation reveals that on March 16, Ballard observed what he believed to be a hand to hand drug transaction in a motel parking lot in Crawford County. Ballard followed the suspects in the vehicle and contacted a Crawford County Sheriff’s Office patrol unit to assist in the traffic stop.

When the vehicle was stopped, Ballard and the Crawford County deputy encountered two adult men, one adult woman, and two children in the vehicle. Ballard removed a backpack from inside the vehicle.

According to the GBI, shortly after removing the backpack, one of the men attempted to snatch the backpack out of Ballard’s hand and run. The other man also ran from the location. In the attempt to snatch the backpack from Ballard, a fight ensued.

During the fight, Ballard and the man ended up on the ground behind the vehicle. GBI officials say Ballard then placed his forearm on the neck of the man and applied force which resulted in the man becoming unresponsive. Ballard had to perform a sternum rub to revive the man. After the man was responsive again, Ballard placed handcuffs on the man and assisted him to his feet. Seconds later, GBI investigators say Ballard kicked the feet out from under the handcuffed man and took him to the ground.

The GBI will complete an independent investigation. Once complete, it will be turned over to the Macon Judicial Circuit District Attorney’s Office.

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