CLAYTON COUNTY, GEORGIA – Channel 2 Action News has learned that a Clayton County sheriff’s deputy is the subject of a criminal investigation regarding whether she made an illegal recording with her cell phone of a co-worker in the bathroom.
The Clayton County District Attorney’s Office will bring a proposed indictment to the grand jury next Wednesday charging Sheriff’s Deputy and Public Information Officer Alicia Parkes with unlawful eavesdropping while on the job.
An official confirmed the D.A.’s office is also investigating another unrelated incident involving Parkes after its initial investigation turned up allegations Parkes obstructed fellow officers during a 911 call.
Investigative reporter Mark Winne sat down with Clayton County Police Officer Jeff Burdette, who told a compelling narrative about an incident in April of 2008 involving the conduct of Parkes when she was a fellow Clayton County police officer.
Burdette told Winne he wanted to arrest and charge Parkes with obstruction, but a supervisor instructed him not to.
Almost three years later, Burdette was recently interviewed by the Clayton County District Attorney’s Office about that incident as it pertains to Parkes’ behavior.
Burdette said,”When the district attorney’s office called me, I was glad it was being looked into. I was very happy it was being looked into.”
Burdette told Winne he is so by-the-book when it comes to law enforcement that he wrote a seat belt citation for his own mother on Christmas Day.
“If you are doing something wrong, it doesn’t matter who you are. I have written citations to my own mother; I have written citations to an Atlanta Falcon,” Burdette said.
But for the particular incident in 2008 involving Parkes, it did matter who the person was.
Burdette told Winne, “Because she was a member of Clayton County Police Department, I was requested not to seek charges against her and not to seek warrants against her.”
Burdette said he was one of several officers who responded to a 911 call involving a runaway juvenile relative of Parkes. Burdette said the juvenile fled from police, was tackled to the ground, and Parkes tried repeatedly to pull the juvenile away from officers before and after the relative was handcuffed.
According to records, Parkes expressed concern that the juvenile was having an asthma attack, which was why she was pulling him from the officers. The police reports state that officers asked him if he was having difficulty breathing, but the juvenile said he was fine.
Burdette told Channel 2 that Parkes jumped on his back to prevent him from handcuffing the juvenile. The incident report and supporting documents corroborate the claim that Parkes tried to pull the teenager away, but there was no mention of her jumping on Burdette’s back. Burdette said a supervisor requested he leave that part out of the report and instructed he not arrest Parkes for obstruction.
A Clayton County sergeant who was called to the scene of the incident corroborated Burdette’s allegation of obstruction in an internal memo Channel 2 obtained. The sergeant wrote, “I believe that Officer Parkes did obstruct the on duty Officers as they were attempting to complete the task she called 911 for.”
In a memo written on the date of the incident, Burdette stated, “Had Officer Parkes been a member of the general public or from another police department and not the Clayton County Police Department, I would have immediately placed Officer Parkes on the ground and arrested her for Obstruction of an Officer.”
Burdette told Winne he had no idea the memo he authored about the incident was part of an internal affairs investigation of him. Burdette said he was under the impression Parkes was being investigated, but Parkes actually filed an internal affairs complaint against Burdette.
In a follow-up e-mail pertaining to the complaint, Parkes wrote, “I am very ashamed to even say I work with this department and humiliated with how those officers treated us.”
Records show the internal affairs case against Burdette was found not sustained, and Parkes voluntarily resigned a few months later.
A Clayton Police Department representative said, in this current administration, Parkes would have been dealt with differently.
Channel 2 also obtained records from College Park Police Department that indicate she was terminated in 2009, during her probationary period.
Parkes was dismissed from College Park Police Department when an internal affairs investigation sustained the complaint of a citizen who alleged she was assaulted by Parkes, while on-duty, at the apartment of a man they were both romantically involved with. The citizen claimed she stopped by the apartment of her on and off boyfriend, a College Park police officer, while Parkes was there. According to police records, Parkes told the citizen to leave and threatened to put her in jail when she refused, then the situation escalated into a fight.
The investigation found that Parkes unlawfully threatened the citizen and grabbed her by the throat, although the citizen was the initial aggressor. The internal affairs case report states, “Officer Parkes was not professional in the way she handled herself as she was on-duty and in uniform.”
The internal memo notifying Parkes of her termination reads, “You had no reason for your actions, other than ‘emotions and poor judgment.’”
Parkes was charged with violating four policies of the College Park Police Department’s Standards of Conduct, including abuse of authority and failure to report use of force.
An official confirms she is employed at the Clayton County Sheriff’s Office as a deputy and public information officer.
When Winne asked Burdette how he felt about Parkes’ employment at the Sheriff’s Office, he responded, “As a law enforcement officer, I was disappointed. Her mannerisms on the scene, her actions were not professional. They reflected poorly on any law enforcement agency. And I was disappointed that she would be representing law enforcement in any capacity, at that point.”
Sheriff Kem Kimbrough told Winne he does not believe any of these incidents involving Parkes merit the scrutiny they are getting from the D.A’s office. Kimbrough said that is one of several factors between him and the D.A.’s office leading him to restrict their credentials and key card access through his office.
Parkes declined our request for an interview.