A motorist stopped by an officer with the Georgia Department of Corrections in what he described as an unmarked pick-up truck was speeding because one of his tractors was on fire in a field where he farms.
That’s what public records indicate spurred a traffic stop by a state officer who seemingly lacked jurisdiction to conduct the stop on U.S. Highway 301 in Statesboro on October 11.
An initial incident report indicates that a motorist was stopped by a dark pick-up truck with blue lights in the front.
From the initial report:
The subject* asked for [the motorist’s] drivers license and registration. During the initial contact, the complainant told the subject he was in a hurry because he had a tractor on fire in a field. Complainant states the subject told him, “I don’t give a damn what you have, I’m going to run your license and I’ll be back.
Complainant then called 911 to make sure the Fire Department was on the way to the tractor fire. When the subject returned he heard 911 on the Complainants speaker phone. The complainant states the subject’s demeanor changed and he apologized and said, “hope your tractor is ok,” and left headed back to his vehicle. Complaining left to check on his tractor and the subject continued on Highway 301 southbound.
*The subject is the now-identified corrections officer. When the incident report was recorded by BCSO, an investigation into the incident had not yet begun.
The motorist contacted the Sheriff’s Office in early October after being stopped by an unmarked pick-up truck. The driver told deputies that the person who pulled him over was wearing a ‘reddish rust colored polo with an emblem on the left breast area.’ He told deputies he did not see a badge or a weapon on the person who conducted the traffic stop.
Because a similar incident was reported taking place in Brooklet just one week prior, the Sheriff’s Office fully investigated the validity of the stop. According to the BCSO investigative report, the purpose of the investigation was to identify the individual who stopped the driver on U.S. Hwy 301.
Investigation by the Bulloch County Sheriff’s Office
Investigator William Sims and Captain Neil Casey conducted an investigation after the Sheriff’s Office received the report on October 11, 2022.
The investigative file from the Bulloch County Sheriff’s Office, obtained by The Georgia Virtue under the Georgia Open Records Act, included an initial incident report, a full investigative summary, photographs of the black truck driven by the GDC officer, a telephone call with dispatch by the GDC officer, and security camera footage obtained from local businesses in proximity of the traffic stop.
Thanks to two local businesses that allowed BCSO to review security camera footage, investigators were able to determine that the vehicle was either that of a DNR officer or a GDC K-9 officer.
The truck determined to be involved in the incident did not display blue lights on top of the vehicle.
A state GDC emblem did appear on the driver side door, according to pictures obtained during the course of the investigation, and ‘K-9 Officer’ was displayed above the rear wheel, however, a driver that remains in the vehicle would be unable to see the lettering of either.
The investigative summary details contacts made by BCSO to determine to whom the truck belonged. The GDC officer was ultimately identified as Andrew Sherrod, a GDC K-9 Officer who resides in Bulloch County.
BCSO Contacts GDC Officer
Investigators went to the residence of Sherrod to inquire about the incident on 301. From the report:
Sherrod confirmed with us that he did stop [the motorist] because [the motorist] was at a high rate of speed and almost caused an accident. I advised Sherrod that the only problem was that we had no record of the stop, and did not know if it was another incident like Brooklet Police had reported to them the week before. (Impersonation Case) Sherrod advised that he did call our dispatch and requested a 10-27, (license information) to be run. He advised that our dispatcher would not provide him that information via the telephone because she could not verify his identity. Sherrod advised that he released [the motorist] from the traffic stop. I requested that he provided me with the time he called our office, in order to pull recorded phone calls. Sherrod provided me with the time 09:27.
BCSO Dispatch Tells GDC Officer They Cannot Run A License Over the Phone
From the investigative report by William Sims:
Never did Sherrod request a deputy or advised the deputy that he was on a traffic stop with [the motorist]. He simply asked for the information to be run. During this call Sherrod said that he would call the State Patrol to have the information run. I confirmed with Post 45 that Sherrod did not call, nor obtain information from dispatchers there.
Sherrod contacted the Sheriff’s Office dispatch and asked the dispatcher to run a license for him. The dispatcher placed the caller on hold and then returned to tell him that the office cannot run licenses or tags over the phone because they cannot verify the identity of the officer. The dispatcher told Sherrod to utilize a radio or to come by the Sheriff’s Office in person.
“I gotcha,” he replied. “I don’t think I have y’all, I don’t think I have this region keyed in. Let me call the state patrol,” he tells the dispatcher before the call ends.
Here’s the audio of that phone call:
BCSO Confirms with Brooklet PD, Complainant That Incidents Were Not Related
The Sheriff’s Office contacted the Brooklet Police Department to rule out whether or not Sherrod was the individual who stopped the motorist in Brooklet the week prior. According to the report, Brooklet PD did not make a formal report on the impersonation case, but was able to connect BCSO with the woman who had the interaction. She confirmed that neither the truck nor the GDC officer resembled the truck and person involved in her incident.
Because Brooklet PD did not make its own report, BCSO created its own case file on the incident for documentation purposes only.
According to the original press release from the Sheriff’s Office, investigators determined that ‘no criminal offense occurred’ and the incident was turned over to the Department of Corrections to deal with internally.
Georgia Law on Stops by Correctional Officers
GDC Officers are, indeed, certified by the Georgia Peace Officer Standards & Training Council, however, the certification for jailers and corrections officers differs from that of peace officers who patrol and work with the public. A 2020 Facebook post from Georgia Southern University, however, indicates that Sherrod was previously employed with Georgia Southern PD as a K9 handler, indicating that he is a certified peace officer.
Jurisdiction of GDC officers is supposed to be limited to GDC property and its immediate proximity. There is no GDC property near Highway 301 at A.J. Riggs Road.
TheGeorgiaVirtue is still awaiting documentation from GDC regarding the incident.