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Judge throws out oath-violation charges against Glynn County officers

Former Glynn County Police Chief John Powell
Former Glynn County Police Chief John Powell (Photo from Glynn County government website)

BRUNSWICK, Ga. – A coastal Georgia judge has thrown out some criminal charges against three police officers, although remaining charges mean each is still on track to go to trial.

Glynn County Superior Court Judge Anthony Harrison dismissed three charges of violating oaths of office against both former Glynn County Police Chief John Powell and former chief of staff Brian Scott, The Brunswick News reported.

The judge also threw out three oath-of-office violation charges against former Glynn County officer David Haney.

The judge refused to throw out perjury charges against all three men and witness tampering charges against Powell and Scott, who later became Vidalia police chief.

Powell is still on administrative leave with pay pending the outcome of his case, but is no longer police chief.

The three are among four officers indicted on charges that they ignored evidence of a fifth officer consorting with a drug dealer.

The charges followed the discovery that a Glynn County narcotics officer was having sex with two confidential informants. Allegations later emerged that evidence was suppressed in a fatal police chase involving the Glynn-Brunswick Narcotics Enforcement Team. After pleading guilty to two counts of violating his oath, former narcotics officer James Cassada agreed to testify about further wrongdoing within the police department.

County commissioners are fighting a referendum to abolish the department, which has come under new scrutiny after the death of Ahmaud Arbery earlier this year.

Arbery, a Black man, was fatally shot Feb. 23 when a white father and son armed themselves and pursued the unarmed 25-year-old, who was running in their neighborhood, according to authorities. More than two months passed before Gregory McMichael and his son, Travis McMichael, were charged with felony murder and aggravated assault.

A third man, William “Roddie” Bryan, a neighbor of the McMichaels who authorities say had joined in their pursuit of Arbery and recorded the cellphone video of the shooting, also was charged with murder.

The county police department was the initial investigating agency, but arrests came after the Georgia Bureau of Investigation took over the case from local prosecutors.