SWAT team captures Glynn County lieutenant accused in domestic dispute

Lt. Robert Sasser charged after estranged wife says he threatened her

By Ethan Calloway - Anchor/reporter, Ashley Harding - Reporter, Garrett Pelican - Digital executive producer

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A tense standoff Friday between a Georgia SWAT team and a suspended Glynn County Police Department lieutenant in wooded area off a highway ended with the capture of the lieutenant, who was taken to a hospital, according to police.

Lt. Robert Sasser, 41, had been released on bond this week on charges of misdemeanor simple battery and criminal trespass.

He is accused of showing up at his estranged wife's home over the weekend, trying to kick down her door and threatening to kill her.

Sasser turned himself in over the weekend and was released on bond, but Thursday afternoon police said someone called and expressed concern for Sasser's welfare.

Officers and deputies began looking for Sasser and found him in a vehicle after several hours of searching in a wooded area off Georgia Highway 99.

Police said that as deputies approached the vehicle, a shot was fired from inside it. The officers contained Sasser in the vehicle while the SWAT team was called.

A police spokesperson said the SWAT team used ​​​​​​ "less than lethal" weapons to bring Sasser into custody about 1:30 a.m. because he had violated the terms of his bond.

Police said Sasser did not harm himself during the incident, but he was taken to a hospital for treatment. Sasser remains in the hospital, but it's unclear what kind of treatment he is receiving. 

Glynn County Police Chief John Powell suspended Sasser without pay pending the outcome of an internal investigation, a county spokesperson said Wednesday in a statement announcing the arrest.

“This has been a long, difficult week for the Glynn County law enforcement community," Powell said. "We are working together to not only hold Sasser accountable for his actions but to also assist him in getting the personal help he needs."

Domestic dispute

Officers answering a call about a burglary-in-progress at the victim's home shortly after 3 a.m. Sunday found Sasser on the front porch trying to force his way inside, according to an incident report.

The report stated officers separated Sasser from the victim, who was standing in the doorway. It went on to say that Sasser repeatedly tried to slip past police to get to the victim, at one point lunging at her.

Questioned outside, the lieutenant said he was separated from his wife, who was inside with another man. He said he came by the home to retrieve the keys to the couple's SUV.

But that's not how the victim and her guest characterized the episode. She said her estranged husband tried to kick down the door and threatened to kill her and her guest before police arrived.

Despite claiming he felt threatened, the victim's guest was not cooperative.

The victim said the SUV was listed in her name and her estranged husband's, but she makes the payments on it. She offered to hand over the keys if it meant Sasser would leave.

Police did not arrest Sasser at the time, noting they did not have probable cause. But after reviewing body camera footage, the agency referred the case to a solicitor general and magistrate judge.

Based on police reports and body camera footage, the solicitor general and judge agreed there was probable cause. Warrants were issued for the arrest of Sasser, who surrendered Monday.

Sasser was previously in the news after a controversial officer-involved shooting in 2010 that left a woman dead. Sasser and another officer were cleared in that incident.

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