An Athens-Clarke County police officer who was fired on Saturday for using excessive force was hired yesterday as a deputy by Oglethorpe County Sheriff David Gabriel.
Taylor Saulters was a rookie officer who had graduated from the police academy less than one year ago when he hit a fleeing suspect with a patrol car on Friday.
An internal affairs report of the incident released by the Athens-Clarke County police department found that Saulters intentionally steered the patrol car in the direction of the suspect and used poor judgement in using a vehicle to apprehend a fleeing suspect.
Gabriel announced that the Oglethorpe police department had hired Saulters through a Facebook post.
“I have known [Saulters] since he was a baby and I know he will be a great asset to our county,” he said. “As a citizen of Oglethorpe County you will find the wisdom of this decision in getting a deputy of this caliber.” Gabriel was a friend and coworker of Saulter’s father, Jerry Saulters, an Athens-Clarke County police captain.
24-year-old Timmy Patmon had an outstanding felony probation warrant for a previous charge of nonviolent drug possession offenses when he was hit by Saulter’s patrol car on Friday.
He was spotted by officers Hunter Blackmon and Taylor Saulters during a routine patrol. Blackmon pursued Patmon on foot while Saulters chased him in the patrol car. According to body camera footage, Saulters swerved into Patmon, hitting him from behind.
Patmon was taken to the hospital where he was treated for scrapes and bruises. He was then released to Clarke County Jail, where he was charged with violation of probation and obstruction of law enforcement.
The internal affairs report said that Saulters maintains he did not intend to hit Patmon. Saulters says that he had difficulty controlling the vehicle because of a flat tire sustained during the pursuit of the victim.
“There are no facts that were uncovered that would have led to the justification for this level of use of force in this incident,” the report concluded.
The Georgia State Patrol and Georgia Bureau of Investigation will conduct their own independent investigations of the incident.